By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, May 30 (IANS) It was a dream come true for Yeduguri Sandinti Jagan Mohan Reddy as he took oath as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.
What he wanted to achieve in undivided Andhra Pradesh and in the Congress party, he achieved in the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh and as the leader of the YSR Congress Party.
After a nine-year-long struggle, he reached the pinnacle of his political career at the age of 46.
Jagan, as the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) chief is popularly known, had set his eyes on the top post following the death of his father and then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in a helicopter crash in 2009.
After a long battle including 16 months he spent in jail in quid-pro-quo cases, Jagan has achieved his goal, banking on the legacy of his father who was popularly known as YSR.
For YSR, known in the Congress as the ‘perpetual dissident’, it took more than two decades to realize his dream when he ousted Chandrababu Naidu from power in undivided Andhra Pradesh in 2004. He retained power five years later and also started grooming his only son to be his political successor.
The young businessman, who was just 36 then, had an impressive beginning to his political career, getting elected to the Lok Sabha from Kadapa, considered a pocket borough of the YSR family.
However, YSR’s sudden death plunged Jagan into gloom and the state into political chaos. Till then not many outside the state knew Jagan.
When YSR loyalists began ‘Jagan as CM’ campaign, he came to be seen as over ambitious and a man in a hurry to reach the top, coming from Rayalaseema, a region notorious for ruthless factional killings and where the inheritance of political power is seen as a matter of legitimate right.
The Congress leadership was unimpressed and threatened to crack the whip but Jagan defied the party to undertake the ‘Odarpu yatra’ to console the families of those who died of shock or committed suicide following YSR’s death.
Seen as brash by many, he foresaw a bright political future in claiming the political legacy of his father and quit the Congress along with his mother Y.S. Vijayalakshmi to float the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party or YSCRP in March 2011.
By winning by-elections from the Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula seats with huge margins, the son-mother duo proved their popularity in the home district.
The same year, the Andhra Pradesh High Court on petitions filed by some leaders of the Congress and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), ordered a CBI probe into allegations of corruption against Jagan.
In what came to be known as the ‘quid-pro-quo’ cases, Jagan was accused of getting investments into his businesses by firms and individuals in return for the undue favours shown to them by his father in the form of approvals, leases, contracts and government lands.
Jagan, who termed the cases against him witch-hunting by the Congress and the TDP, was arrested by the CBI on May 27, 2012. He spent 16 months in jail before he was granted bail.
After his release, the young leader found himself in a different political environment with the UPA government’s decision to grant statehood to Telangana.
With his trademark public outreach style and ‘padyatras’ or foot marches, he strengthened the party. He promised to usher in ‘Rajanna Rajyam’, a reference to YSR’s rule during which many path breaking welfare schemes were launched.
Jagan inherited all the traits of his father – rebellious, aggressive, outspoken, nurturing a strong coterie around him and still striking an instant emotional chord with people.
An unusual politician, Jagan easily mingles with people, shakes hands and develops an emotional connect by cupping their chin in a commiserative gesture.
Though, he narrowly missed out to the TDP in 2014, he was confident that it was only a matter of time before he reached his goal.
He was not wrong. The massive mandate which YSRCP got shows people wanted to give him a chance.