Hyderabad, April 13 (IANS) Ahead of the crucial byelections to one Lok Sabha and 18 assembly seats, the ruling Congress in Andhra Pradesh is in a big dilemma over whether to criticise late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy or praise him.
Facing a tough battle in the polls, which are expected in May-June, the Congress appears confused on its agenda with party leaders publicly airing divergent views. While one section wants the party not to spare YSR for "corruption", the other has warned the leadership that hitting out at the late leader would be suicidal.
The ruling party, on the one hand, faces YSR's son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy who is targeting it for neglecting the welfare schemes launched by his father while, on the other, it will have to confront the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which is highlighting the alleged corruption scandals of the former chief minister.
A section of Congress leaders, including YSR's brother Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, feels the party will not get votes by targeting the late leader as it was he who brought the party to power in 2004 and 2009 and introduced many pathbreaking welfare measures.
After suffering defeat at the hands of YSR Congress party in the Kovur assembly constituency in Nellore district, the Congress is worried over the threat from the fledgling party.
Before his death in a helicopter crash in 2009, YSR was the tallest leader and a crowd puller for the party. But after his death, the situation changed dramatically with his son parting ways and claiming to be a true successor of his political legacy. A section of Congress leaders today see YSR as a liability for the party in view of various corruption scandals that have surfaced in the last two years.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the alleged illegal assets of Jagan, has pointed out in its chargesheet how YSR took certain decisions allotting land and dolling out other favours to companies in return for investments they made into the firms owned by his son.
"The Congress party can win the confidence of people only if stops using the name and pictures of YSR," said senior leader and MP V. Hanumantha Rao.
"How can the Congress party praise YSR on one hand while criticising Jagan on the other when they were hand in glove (in corruption scandals)?" said Sarve Satyanarayana, another MP.
YSR supporters within the party are equally emphatic. His younger brother and former minister Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy has warned of revolt if the Congress party launches a vilification campaign against him.
MP and former central minister A. Sai Pratap has also threatened to quit the Congress if it decides to target YSR. "I will never criticize YSR, who has done so much for people," said Sai Pratap.
Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana appear to be caught between the two groups. They prefer to tread the middle path.
"YSR was a Congress leader till his death. Jagan and YSR are two different people for us. Jagan is just an heir to YSR's wealth and not politics," said Satyanarayana, who made it clear that the party, during the campaign, would target Jagan for his corruption.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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