Ever since the CBI filed the chargesheet against Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, his admirers are not tired of pointing out how admirably he is facing up to the pressure mounted by the investigation agency and his political rivals. Having seen his father for a better part of my journalistic career, I admit the career graph of both father and son is traversing a familiar and similar path.
Jagan has rebellion in his DNA. After all, YSR did not get political rewards mainly because of the opposition he mounted against the P V Narasimha Rao – Kotla Vijaybhaskar Reddy combine.
I remember when the High command was to initiate disciplinary action against YSR in the issue relating to flinging of slippers at the then prime minister, P V Narasimha Rao at a meeting in Kadapa, when Kotla was CM. A senior Congress leader told me that YSR dared the Central leadership saying, “If you do so, neither Kotla nor PV will ever be able to campaign in not only Kadapa but the entire Rayalaseema region.”
I remember how YSR refused to accept defeat when Chandrababu Naidu as chief minister refused to renew the barytes mining leases in Kadapa, in which YSR’s family was involved. The lease was cancelled after the Natarajan commission findings that accused YSR’s company, M/s Vijayalakshmi Mining Company of unauthorised encroachments.
I was at YSR’s home in Hyderabad when the news broke. Strangely, YSR’s face betrayed no emotion. He remained cool even though his political rival had ruined his business activity worth crores of rupees. YSR refused to accept defeat and instead started planning for his padyatra from Chevella to Srikakulam. The walkathon brought the Congress back to power after ten years in the wilderness in Andhra Pradesh.
Jagan’s detractors say the young man is too obstinate. That a more flexible approach would have perhaps made him CM after Rosaiah but he was in too much of a hurry in 2009. But they forget YSR’s obstinate approach towards bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Though officially, he chanted the consensus mantra, twice as PCC president and then as chief minister, YSR rejected the campaign for Telangana. He had told me in so many words that a separate Telangana will be a disaster for the new state and also for the rest of AP as resources and manpower would get divided. He opposed it tooth and nail in CWC meetings in New Delhi, and the High command listened to him because of the political power he commanded back home.
Jagan’s troubles are similar to what YSR faced in the 90s. The crowds that greet him on his district tours may give him comfort but he needs courage to face the legal battles. Though very few of his father’s friends and colleagues are by his side now, he needs to remember that it is not a road less travelled. His dad has walked on the same path before him.