Since law in this country often loses its way in political bylanes, the release of Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy on bail has set off alarms in different corners. Most of these are located in his home state, Andhra Pradesh, where the end of his 16-month-long incarceration on charges of corruption is being seen as a political gambit for its likely effects on the assembly and Lok Sabha polls of 2014. The Telugu Desam Party is the least thrilled with the turn of events. The YSR Congress is a threat to its vote-bank in Seemandhra, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti having already reduced the party to a non-entity in the Telangana region. The TDP’s worry is bad news for the Bharatiya Janata Party as it was depending on it to get a toehold in Andhra Pradesh, which sends as many as 42 legislators to the Lok Sabha. The young Reddy’s return is a boost to the agitation for a united Andhra that has been going on for more than two months now. That should have been good news to many in the Congress campaigning against the state’s bifurcation. Unfortunately, it is not. In fact, the release of Mr Reddy has set off a rebellion in the Congress since it has suddenly robbed several biggies in the party of the single agenda that could have saved their political careers. They can now neither trust the Congress, which is all set to create Telangana, nor trust the YSR Congress, which is unlikely to allow them to become challengers to Mr Reddy. In disadvantaging the TDP and the BJP, and stealing the thunder from rebel Congressmen, Mr Reddy’s release could have benefited only the Congress. Hence the speculation about an underhand Congress-YSR Congress deal, especially since an alliance with the YSR Congress in Seemandhra could be as profitable for the Congress at the Centre as that with the TRS in Telangana.
Whatever the truth, Mr Reddy is unwilling to let his opponents gain easy brownie points from their insinuations. He has already thrown them off-guard by sending out a feeler to the BJP in his praise for Narendra Modi’s administrative skills. While that leaves the door open for a post-poll arrangement, Mr Reddy’s reminder about the necessity of espousing the secular principle does not displease his friends such as the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen either. Mr Reddy has already proved himself to be an astute politician. The Congress may find befriending him as difficult a task as containing him.