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The Congress and its dilemma over Telangana and Jagan Reddy




As has been known for some time, the Congress is in a major dilemma over its position in Andhra Pradesh. For many years, especially after the emergence of YSR as the Congress strongman in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress managed to reign supreme in Andhra, defeating all attempts by Chandrababu Naidu to challenge this rule of the Congress. However, 2 events after that have brought the Congress to a point where it is fearful of its prospects in the state; and the state is very critical, since in the last elections, it sent a nice section of the overall Congress count of MP’s.
First was the demise of YSR in a helicopter crash. This crash caused a vacuum in the state, and led to the push by the son of YSR, Jaganamonhan Reddy, to be appointed as the next Chief Minister of the state. He had already quickly seemingly consolidate the financial power that his father had, and this financial power as well as the aura of his father was helping him consolidate support within the state. However, this was not to be. The Congress High Command really does not like anybody other than members of the family to assume that they have a high political position, and this attempt by Jaganmohan Reddy was totally against the culture of the Congress; this set him up for rebellion, and finally he departed from the party. The other problem for the Andhra Congress was that YSR had not let anybody come up as a strong leader, and in his absence, there was nobody who could be counted on to oppose Jagan. The rebellion of Jagan was a strong force that forced the Congress politically on the backfoot.

Next came the Telangana issue. The Congress allied with the TRS in order to get support from within Telangana, but there was only a certain point to which it could go. The TRS could not continue in such an alliance without advocating for the state of Telangana, and the Congress could not promise that because of the fierce backlash that would be advocated by the Telugu Desam in the other parts of the state; leaving the Congress in an inbetween state. And since the Congress is the ruling party, it cannot blame anybody, but instead has to shoulder most of the blame. The Congress really tried hard though – they set up the favorite instrument, a committee to evaluate options – this bought them some time. However, the committee really did not give any face-saving options for the Congress.
Now, the recent discussions are all about the Congress adding both these parties into itself as a form of resolving these political issues. However, there are recent problems that are apparent. The incorporation of the Praja Rajyam into the Congress led to discontentment within the members of the Praja Rajyam and the TRS would be well aware of that. Further, the TRS cannot merge into the Congress without getting some official assurance of the formation of Telangana, and so far the Congress is not willing to do that (the TRS will lose command of the Telangana sympathy if it takes this step of merger without an assurance on the formation of the state).
The problem of Jaganmohan Reddy is more critical. He has already been in jail for quite some time now, given the CBI investigation against him. The fast rise of YSR and Jagan and his sordid affairs have ensured that there would be a lot of ammunition against him that the Congress could use through the CBI, and it would be using all that knowledge to arm-twist him into dialing down his activities and even agreeing to a merger. It would not be so simple though, since he would have knowledge of the culpability of a number of Congress ministers and other senior leaders from the state.




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