When the ambitious young politician, YSR Congress MP, Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy was bundled into Chanchalguda jail here on May 27 last year, he would not have bargained for the long haul and forced to compromise with his luxurious lifestyle and leave his fledgling party confused.
Given his well-crafted image of business and politically–savvy young man on the move, one would have expected him to display some of the skills he acquired during his father, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s tenure as Chief Minister, to wriggle out of incarceration and the slew of cases of quid pro quo CBI filed against him by the CBI.
Yet he was forced to spend one long year in jail and a bail continues to elude him despite hiring best of the lawyers in the country from Ram Jethamalini to Harish Salve. Does it mean law of the land is catching up with him ? Or is it a case of political witch-hunt using the CBI as a tool as his die-hard supporters want everyone to believe ?
Perceptions vary and opinion is sharply divided. For his supporters, Jagan is a demi-god, epitome of contemporary political culture, inheritor of YSR’s legacy of doling out populist schemes to the poor and a man who keeps his promises. The YSRCP leaders clearly see in the way he is being targeted, a conspiracy hatched by Congress and Telugu Desam to finish his political career.
A price he is being made to pay for not toeing the line of AICC president, Sonia Gandhi. Both these parties want his stay in jail prolonged so that they can reap the political benefits, they contend.
On Sunday, party’s senior leader, D. A. Somayajulu described how there was disproportionate use of investigation agencies and how investigation continues to be in progress even after a year with five charge-sheets being filed against a single FIR. “It is nothing but political vendetta”.
But, for his detractors, Jagan presents quite a contrasting picture. For a section of Congress and Telugu Desam, he is a villain of the piece who plundered public wealth for private benefit misusing his father’s post to tweak policy decisions that favoured his business empire in a well-oiled quid pro quo route. How can the CBI charges against Jagan be described as politically motivated when the Courts, including the highest one, have repeatedly denied bail to him?, they ask.
If there was no basis, the petitions against him would not have been admitted at all, they argue. The division in political circles has spilled over to people too with sections rallying behind Jagan seeing nothing wrong in his brand of politics.
His party’s handsome win in string of bye-elections is cited as the barometer of public mood in his favour. Equally strong is the opinion of the other sections who wonder how a leader with such controversial background could hope to lead the State.
Jagan’s continued stay in jail has raised questions over his party’s prospects in the 2014 general elections as it looks rudderless and in a bit of disarray as reflected in its performance in the debate on the no-confidence motion against Kiran Kumar Reddy Government in the Assembly recently.
However much he tries to make up for his absence in political arena through his weekly “mulaqats” in jail with help from his sister, Sharmila’s padayatra, the party misses him badly.