Jaganmohan Reddy is greeted by party supporters outside Chanchalaguda jail after being released on bail on Tuesday. (AFP)
Hyderabad, Sept. 24: Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy today walked out of Chanchalaguda jail to a hero’s welcome, setting off political tremors that are expected to drastically change the equations in what will remain of Andhra Pradesh after a Telangana state is carved out.
Thousands of YSR Congress workers and supporters greeted Jagan as he stepped out of prison in the afternoon, ending nearly 16 months in jail, a day after securing bail in a CBI assets case.
Around 4pm, he began a 15km crawl home in a convoy of about 100 vehicles, stopping every now and then to greet ecstatic supporters and shake their hands. About 100 policemen and 20 private guards provided security to Jagan, who was in a bullet-proof vehicle.
The biggest loser from Jagan’s sudden bail will be the Telugu Desam, which was hoping to sweep next year’s Assembly polls in Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra) taking advantage of the Congress’s unpopularity in the region following its nod to a Telangana state.
Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu, who has publicly declared he had consented to the state’s division under pressure from a party lobby, has recently been saying he doesn’t want the process to start until the fears of Seemandhra’s people are addressed.
The YSR Congress, however, has been the only political party to have consistently championed a united Andhra Pradesh — a fact likely to strike a chord in Seemandhra.
| Vijayamma is all smiles at her Hyderabad home after getting the news of son Jaganmohan’s bail. (PTI)
Just a fortnight ago, a survey in Seemandhra had given the Desam 104 of the region’s 175 Assembly seats next year. But political analysts say that things have changed overnight with Jagan’s release.
This was evident when Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K. Chandrasekhar Rao, whose pro-statehood politics lies diametrically opposed to Jagan’s stance, yesterday predicted 140 Assembly seats for the YSR Congress from Seemandhra. Jagan is no longer a rival of Rao, whose party will be seeking votes almost exclusively in Telangana.
After the Congress accepted the statehood demand eight weeks ago, all the YSR Congress’s 18 MLAs and two MPs, including Jagan, sent their resignations to the Speakers of their Houses. The resignations are yet to be accepted.
As an immediate result of Jagan’s release, there is a likelihood of some Congress and Desam lawmakers defecting to his party.
All this would have been on Desam leaders’ minds yesterday when they slammed the CBI decision to pave the way for Jagan’s bail and alleged a secret deal between his party and the ruling Congress over the spoils in Seemandhra.
Jagan may tomorrow announce his schedule for a yatra to shore up popular support, following up on sister Sharmila’s padayatras and bus yatras during his long imprisonment.
Although Sharmila had taken on the mantle of leading the YSR Congress, Jagan’s prolonged absence from view was threatening to hit the morale of the party rank and file. So, the party leadership is greatly relieved over the events of the past two days.
“Our prayers have been heard by the Lord,” said Jagan’s mother Vijayamma.
“I am relieved and can now concentrate on family affairs and my daughters,” said Jagan’s wife Bharati, who had been running her husband’s companies since his arrest in May last year.
The family home, which functions as the party office, was decked out with flowers welcoming Jagan.