“Peo­ple will teach Congress a bit­ter les­son”

India Today - - INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK - Fol­low the writer on Twit­ter@ Amar­nathK­Menon

YSR Congress Pres­i­dent Y. S. Ja­gan Mo­han Reddy is his con­fi­dent self, in­vok­ing the name of his fa­ther and God’s grace, as he braces him­self to lead the party in the 2014 Gen­eral Elec­tions. In an hour- long con­ver­sa­tion at his Lo­tus Pond home in Hy­der­abad, Ja­gan, 41, as he is pop­u­larly known, spoke to Se­nior Ed­i­tor AMAR­NATH K. MENON on his YSR Congress party, poll plans and po­lit­i­cal ri­vals. Ex­cerpts:

Q. What are the chal­lenges you face as pres­i­dent of the YSR Congress af­ter spend­ing 16 months in jail?

A. We pledged to pro­vide a bet­ter life to peo­ple as en­shrined in the poli­cies and pro­grammes that were ini­ti­ated in the days of my fa­ther Dr Y. S. Ra­jasekhara Reddy. Our party is work­ing to­wards it. The op­por­tu­nity to serve bet­ter will come soon. We are wait­ing for the 2014 elec­tions.

Q. Q. How How do do you you pro­pose pro­pose to to step step up up the the Sa­maikyandhra Sa­maikyandhra cam­paign? cam­paign?

A. A. We have been at the fore­front of the cam­paign against di­vi­sion of Andhra Pradesh. CPI( CPI( M) M) and the All In­dia Ma­jlise- It­te­hadul Mus­limeen ( AIMIM) AIMIM) are the other par­ties that have con­sis­tently op­posed di­vi­sion. We are mount­ing pres­sure on other par­ties that mat­ter in the See­mandhra re­gion. If there are more par­ties on our side, our chances of stalling the plan to di­vide the state im­prove. We have an­nounced a de­tailed pro­gramme for Oc­to­ber. We will do ev­ery­thing we can.

Q. What can this ul­ti­mately achieve for your party?

A. We were al­ways ahead of all other par­ties in See­mandhra and that has been con­firmed by in­ter­nal and in­de­pen­dent sur­veys. Our stand is based on our con­science. We be­lieve di­vi­sion of the state will bring with it is­sues re­lated to shar­ing of re­sources and pos­si­bly lead to bit­ter in­ter- state con­flicts. Pol­i­tics has pro­pelled par­ties to favour bi­fur­ca­tion.

Q. Will you con­tinue with the pop­ulist and sub­sidy schemes ini­ti­ated by your fa­ther?

A. Yes. We will con­tinue with ev­ery­thing and do it even bet­ter.

Q. In what time frame will you put a party struc­ture in place?

A. It is al­ready there. Did not N. T. Rama Rao launch the party some seven months be­fore the 1983 ( As­sem­bly) elec­tions? Struc­ture is a byprod­uct of peo­ple’s mood and peo­ple’s sup­port. Once that is there to be tapped, all that you need is an elec­tion sym­bol they can iden­tify with. When com­pared to those days, the YSR Congress is bet­ter placed as we are able to sense the sen­ti­ments in each con­stituency. We have spent the last three- and- a- half years track­ing it and bring­ing the party where it is now.

Q. Will you wel­come mi­grants from the Congress and TDP?

A. I am against in­duct­ing any­body and every­body. I will pick and choose some­body I think is go­ing to add value to my party. For me, any fresh face is al­ways bet­ter be­cause th­ese as­pi­rants do not come with any bag­gage. They have a de­sire to out­per­form oth­ers. But, at times, we will have to field ex-

pe­ri­enced per­sons. We have al­ready picked a few can­di­dates. We are con­tin­u­ously track­ing con­stituen­cies to iden­tify pop­u­lar and po­ten­tial win­ners who will work and de­liver. We are and will con­tinue to be choosy.

Q. With whom will you have a pre­poll al­liance?

A. ( Smiles) None. By God’s grace, we do not have to de­pend on any­body. We may ac­com­mo­date like- minded par­ties like CPI( M) and AIMIM at some stage.

Q. Will you keep op­tions of a post- poll al­liance open af­ter the elec-

tion re­sults are known?

A. I am sec­u­lar. I will keep my op­tions open. Why should I com­mit my­self now?

Q. So, you are rul­ing out Naren­dra Modi, BJP and NDA?

A. Modi is to be ap­pre­ci­ated for his ad­min­is­tra­tive and gov­er­nance skills. He needs to come on to the sec­u­lar plat­form. That is the kind of pol­i­tics my gen­er­a­tion and the next gen­er­a­tion knows and likes. My dream is to see that ev­ery po­lit­i­cal party is sec­u­lar. We are a ma­tur­ing democ­racy. Re­li­gion is a per­sonal per­sua­sion, be it for a Mus­lim, a Chris­tian, a Sikh, a Hindu or a fol­lower of any other re­li­gion. We have to wipe out the feel­ing of in­se­cu­rity be­cause of re­li­gion.

Q. Will you, if nec­es­sary, join hands with the Congress af­ter the elec­tions?

A. Why don’t you ask the com­mu­nists the same ques­tion? Why do we have to get into an arena that means noth­ing to­day?

I HAD NO BAD IN­TENT WHEN I LEFT THE CONGRESS. I HAD NO OTHER OP­TION BUTTO LEAVE. I STOPPED HOLD­ING ANY­ONE RE­SPON­SI­BLE OR BLAM­ING ANY­ONE.

Q. Do you still nurse a grouse against the Congress for the way the party treated you af­ter your fa­ther’s death?

A. Yes. The Congress party did not treat me well. Ev­ery day when I say the Lord’s prayer, I am re­minded that seek­ing vengeance is not ours.

Q. Do you hold any­one in that party re­spon­si­ble for it?

A. I stopped hold­ing any­one re­spon­si­ble or blam­ing any­one. I had no bad in­tent when I left the Congress. I had no other op­tion but to leave. I will not even say that I was not of­fered power. Where we dif­fered was when they failed to com­pre­hend and ap­pre­ci­ate why I was go­ing out to meet be­reaved fam­i­lies in dif­fer­ent dis­tricts. It was an emo­tional de­ci­sion that I took soon af­ter vis­it­ing the crash site 20 days af­ter my fa­ther’s death. But it led to mis­un­der­stand­ing and fric­tion. I was at a cross­roads. I dis­cussed it with my fam­ily and, un­mind­ful of reper­cus­sions, de­cided to break out.

Q. What would you do if TDP pur­sues its plan to get your bail can­celled?

A. It is a po­lit­i­cally in­spired move. A Congress MLA who was later made a min­is­ter files a PIL in the Andhra Pradesh High Court just one month af­ter I left the party. Then, TDP joins in and files a pe­ti­tion. It is a case where they are strik­ing at a dead man and his son who was not even in pol­i­tics then.

Q. How will you counter al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion when they be­come shrill dur­ing elec­tion­eer­ing?

A. There is no case. Both the Congress and TDP have come to­gether to do this. Their cred­i­bil­ity is so low that peo­ple will teach them a bit­ter les­son.

Q. What is it that you prom­ise the peo­ple of the state ahead of the elec­tions?

A. Peo­ple want pol­i­tics with sin­cer­ity, pol­i­tics with cred­i­bil­ity. Our cred­i­bil­ity is not tar­nished even though we were in dif­fi­culty. We al­ways show­cased cred­i­ble lead­er­ship. We will do what we say. This is what peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate in me. Be­lieve me, my dream is to have a pho­to­graph of my fa­ther adorn ev­ery home.

APRABHAKAR RAO/ www. in­di­a­to­day­im­ages. com

JA­GAN MO­HAN

REDDY

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