With the YSR Congress Party trying to cash in on the sympathy wave in the wake of its leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s arrest in the illegal assets case, the ruling Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh is going full steam ahead to target him in the by-elections campaigning.
Joining the party’s campaign, union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is in-charge of party affairs in the state, launched a tirade against Jagan, blaming his ‘greed’ for the arrest, thus forcing his mother and sister to hit the road for sympathy.
With Jagan’s mother Y.S. Vijayamma and sister Sharmila targeting the Congress for putting him behind bars ahead of the by-elections, the Congress leaders are cautioning people that a vote for the YSR Party would be a vote for corruption.
Accusing Jagan of amassing huge wealth and building palatial houses in Bangalore and Hyderabad at a cost of Rs.500 to 600 crore each, Azad is denying the allegations that the Congress got him arrested out of a political grudge.
The participation of Azad, another central minister Vayalar Ravi and other leaders in the campaign indicate the importance the Congress party is attaching to the June 12 by-elections to Nellore Lok Sabha and 18 assembly seats.
Azad, in the company of Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, actor-turned-politician K. Chiranjeevi and central ministers D. Purandareswari and Panabka Lakshmi, addressed election meetings in Tirupati, Nellore and Ongole since Sunday evening.
Azad accused Jagan of launching a signature campaign to become chief minister even before the burial of his father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who died in a helicopter crash Sep 2, 2009.
“He was only a three-month-old MP. He should have been patient. He could have become a minister at the centre in one or one-and-half years. He could have also become chief minister in the future,” said Azad.
Recalling his close association with YSR from Youth Congress days, Azad said he was like his brother and termed his death as a tragedy not just for his family but for the party and the state. He said Vijayamma and Sharmila were like his sister and daughter but found fault with them for blaming the Congress for Jagan’s arrest.
“Jagan is not the first man to be arrested on corruption charges. Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda and his three-four cabinet colleagues are in jail for three years,” he said.
“DMK leader and then central minister A. Raja was in jail for more than a year. Even DMK chief Karunanidhi’s daughter went to jail. Congress MP Suresh Kalmadi too was sent behind bars. The chief minister of Karnataka was also arrested but none of them ever blamed the Congress,” he said.
Going a step forward, the chief minister explained at every meeting that the crimes for which Jagan was arrested were not ordinary ones. “If convicted, he will be in jail for 14 years,” says Kiran Kumar Reddy while listing various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) under which Jagan was booked by the CBI.
Rubbishing YSR Party’s allegations of a conspiracy behind YSR’s death, Kiran Kumar Reddy pointed out how the Congress party and its leaders Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi patronized YSR.
As Vijayamma and Sharmila are targeting the Congress for neglecting the welfare schemes launched by YSR, Azad also claimed at every meeting that he himself mooted schemes like five percent reservation for Muslims and pension for widows.