Special Correspondent

‘All attempts failed to persuade Jagan to call off tour'

HYDERABAD: Pushed to the defence in the wake of criticism over its handling of the violence in Mahabubabad, the government on Saturday night denied it had obstructed Congress MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's ‘Odarpu yatra' in Warangal district.

It held that Mr. Jagan was taken into preventive custody only after the situation in Mahabubabad turned volatile. The government could not be accused of allowing the MP to undertake his yatra as all attempts failed to persuade him to call off the tour. The government would have drawn flak even it had placed Mr. Jagan under house arrest.

This stand was enunciated by Home Minister P. Sabitha Indra Reddy and Information Minister J. Geeta Reddy after Chief Minister convened at a short notice a meeting of Ministers available in the city to review the political developments during the last two days. They said the government made no attempt to disrupt his tour.

Attended by 23 Ministers, the meeting was significant as it was held close on the heels of Mr. Jagan's meeting with Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan in the Raj Bhavan to explain his version.

However, the State Congress leadership drew solace from the observations of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Gulbarga that Mr. Jagan should not undertake yatra and respect the directions of the high command.

Mr. Rosaiah reportedly observed that there was no motive behind arresting Mr. Jagan from the train and denied the MP's charge that his train was intentionally detained at Wangapally. “Mr. Jagan is a part of the Congress and it is our duty to see that nothing happens to him,” a Minister requesting anonymity quoted the Chief Minister as saying.

To a specific a question whether the government would accord permission to Mr. Jagan to continue his yatra in future, Dr. Geeta Reddy said a decision would be taken based on the prevailing conditions.