Waiting for trial, one year over
May 26, 2013, 10.28 AM IST
It was exactly one year ago that the YSRCP president YS Jaganmohan Reddy was arrested by the CBI on charges of amassing disproportionate assets taking advantage his father Y S Rajasekhar Reddy’s position as the then chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. So far four chargesheets have been filed against him with some more being in the pipeline.Leaving the outcome of the exercise to the judiciary it may be noted that this happens to be an unprecedented case in the state wherein a top political leader continues to be in prison as under-trial with no final chargesheet or actual trial on the charges being in sight so far. And how this one year has been in the political and prison life of Jagan? The Hans India Correspondents take a look at the different aspects of this unique prisoner. The X factor in state politics Jagan’s opponents thought his imprisonment would be the end of his newly launched party. But now it appears that his opponents read this wrong V Ramu Sarma Hyderabad: “Stone walls do not make prison nor iron bars a cage, minds innocent and quiet take that for a hermitage,” British Poet Richard Lovelace’s lines are most apt for the son of former Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, who was arrested by CBI and has been lodged in Chanchalguda jail since May 27, 2012. After falling out with the Congress a little after the death of his father, Jagan launched the YSR Congress party which took Andhra Pradesh by storm. However, with the political escalation came a host of corruption cases against him and his associates, which finally landed him in Hyderabad’s Chanchalguda prison. From the confines of his prison cell the young leader has been working out his party strategy, attracting leaders from other parties, selecting candidates for the general elections and disposing off other tasks. Jagan’s opponents thought his imprisonment would be the end of his newly launched party. But now it appears that his opponents read this wrong. His mother Y S Vijayalakshmi, as honourary president of the party, and sister Sharmila took over the party affairs and the opposition had plenty to worry about. It has now been proved that the 40 year old Kadapa MP is indeed the X factor that could change the dynamics of politics in Andhra Pradesh. Jagan’s Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) believes that it has emerged as a third force in the political arena of the state and the ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam will be most affected during the 2014 electoral battle. Poll pundits say that YSRCP will sweep the polls, just as in the last year by- elections.The very fact that Jagan was plucked out of an intense campaign by the CBI and a leadership vacuum in the Congress after the death of YSR has come as a blessing in disguise for Jagan.
Many Congress MLAs and some important TDP leaders bid adieu to the party and switch loyalties to Jagan. Though for the present it seems highly unlikely that Jaganmohan Reddy will disentangle himself from the legal mess in which he finds himself over various cases, he is certainly a strong force in Seemandhra region. 2014 is not 2009. In the last three years Congress party has lost almost every Assembly and Lok Sabha bye election. The YSR Congress which had one MLA has increased its strength to 17 MLAs and two Lok Sabha members. The Congress party could not take advantage of the three- way split between its rivals. Voters obviously trusted Jagan more than a holier- thanthou Kiran. Despite being in Jail for one year, Jagan has been successfully running his party from the four walls of the jail. There are of course certain hurdles in the path of Jagan. The biggest stumbling block for him in reaching his goal to become the chief minister of the state is the Telangana issue. Though he certainly is a strong force in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions it is not so in Telangana, at least till now. Nevertheless, he has been able to guide his party to create tremors in the state Assembly. When the TDP moved a no- confidence motion against the government, 18 Congress MLAs violated the whip and joined YSR Congress. After being disqualified from the Assembly, they contested the bye- elections. YSRCP won in 16 constituencies. When the TRS and YSRCP moved no -confidence motion in March this year, it again benefitted the party as nine Congress and an equal number of TDP MLAs switched loyalties to Jagan’s party. Many young TDP MLAs like Kodali Nani, T Vanitha, Amarnath Reddy, Sairaj and Praveen Kumar Reddy made a beeline to Jagan’s party. Similarly nine Congress MLAs Sujaya Krishna Ranga Rao, Dwarampudi Chandrasekhar Reddy, Alla Srinivas (Nani), M Rajesh, Perni Venkata Ramaiah (Nani), Jogi Ramesh, B Siva Prasad Reddy, Gottipati Ravi Kumar and Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy defied the whip and voted in support of the no confidence motion moved by YSRCP and announced that they were now part of YSRCP. As the clamour to join the party has increased, it has led to internal dissension and important leaders like Konathala Ramakrishna, Konda Murali and Konda Surekha felt slighted in the party. While Jagan has been successful in convincing Konda couple, Ramakrishna who was unhappy with the entry of TDP leader Dadi Veerabhadra Rao is yet to reconcile. Incidentally, Chanchalguda jail has been seeing many a VIP prisoners during the last few years. Ramalingaraju who in the year 2000 was showcased by the then Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, to the then U.S. President, Bill Clinton, as a first-generation entrepreneur and the face of India’s IT prowess when the dignitary visited Hyderabad, had fallen from his iconic status after committing a Rs.7,100 crore fraud in a company that he himself built from scratch and had to spend two years and eight months in Chanchalguda jail. Prison walls no bar for activity There was always an endless stream of visitors and many a time the authorities found it difficult to accommodate the visitors. Despite being thrown in prison, liberties curtailed, Yuvajana Sramika Rytu Congress Party (YSRCP) president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy got down to business discussing party affairs
with his mother the morning after he was imprisoned on May 27, 2012 proving that he can run the party regardless of whether he was in jail or outside. Ensconced in a cell on the ground floor of the administrative block of Chanchalguda jail, Jagan has been closely monitoring the political developments in the state and has been evolving necessary strategies to ensure that the party continues to be a power to be reckoned with. His mother Y S Vijayamma and sister Sharmila and a few important leaders of the party have been taking up the responsibility to implement them. The Chanchalguda jail soon became a beehive of activity. There was always an endless stream of visitors and many a time the authorities found it difficult to accommodate the visitors. Legislators belonging to the Congress and the TDP could not get deterred by the intimidating exterior of the jail. In fact if an MLA meets Jagan in his jail, it is taken for granted that he was joining YSRCP. Though the Congress party initially thought that it had delivered a mortal blow by putting Jagan in prison, about 30 Congress MLAs and about dozen TDP MLAs have switched loyalties to YSRCP in last one year. On the other hand Vijayamma, a politically unknown figure, took charge of the party reins soon after his imprisonment in view of the extraordinary circumstances and his sister Sharmila had hit the road and is on a walkathon across the state to keep the party flag flying. On many a occasion, Jagan is said to have executed his agenda of holding one on one meetings and issuing instructions to party leaders, more so to his mother and sister. There is a table, chair and a bench in the cell where Jagan meets his visitors. This had led to allegations that the jail authorities had connived with him and were violating the rules of mulakat and were allowing him to run party affairs from the prison. While such criticism from the opposition parties like TDP is understandable, interestingly even the ruling party members cried hoarse and leaders like Congress chief whip Gandra Venkataramana Reddy demanded a probe against the jail authorities and officials supporting him. He even alleged the YSRCP leader was being allowed to use mobile phone in the jail. PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana had also endorsed these allegations. The minister for Finance Anam Ramanarayana Reddy commented that Chanchalguda jail has been converted into YSRCP party office and the TDP of course upped its ante and joined the chorus of allegations. But the government did not initiate any action much to the chagrin of political observers. Director General of Prisons T Krishna Raju denied any such irregularities. But the jail superintendent in reply to a RTI query by a media house admitted that no record of entry or exit timings was being maintained and that closed circuit cameras were also not recording happenings inside jail. A surprise emergence
Following her father’s footsteps, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s sister Sharmila launched her marathon padayatra from Idupulapaya on October 18, 2012
seeking the support of the people so that they can fulfill the unaccomplished dreams of her father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. Though Sharmila never gave public speeches earlier, she succeeded in making people spell bound with her speeches from the very beginning and the crowds continue to swell at her meetings. The Padayatra, christened ‘Maro Prajaprasthanam’, started on an emotional note when her mother Y S Vijayamma said that they were surviving because of the support they have been getting from the people. “When one of my children is in jail, I am sending the other one to you.” She said that the padayatra was proposed by Jagan when the family members met him in Chanchalguda Jail. He advised them to remain among the people to listen, understand and solve their problems. Sharmila set the tone for her speeches during padayatra saying “As YSR’s daughter, Jagan’s sister and an ordinary worker of YSRCP, I’m launching this padayatra to bring back Rajanna Rajyam”. Ever since she launched the walkathon, she has been focusing on attacking their political opponents, the Congress party and the TDP. She harps on the issue that after YSR’s death, Jaganmohan Reddy wanted to fulfill his father’s unaccomplished dreams, but he was jailed under false charge and accuses the present government of diluting all the schemes. She describes Naidu’s Vastunna Meekosam as “Yellow Drama,” and alleges that TDP and Congress parties were hand in glove in the conspiracy to keep her brother in jail. These two parties, she adds, were trying to ensure that no third force gets strengthened and that was the reason why they were keeping Jagan in jail for longer period. “I am the arrow shot by Jagananna to dethrone this Congress government”, she roars. A determined young lady has now covered over 2,000 kms across the length and breadth of the state despite a leg injury which derailed her yatra for about six weeks, with a short spell of rest earlier due to similar reasons. Starting from Kadapa she has so far covered the districts of Anantapuram, Kurnool, mahabubnagar, Ranga Reddy, nalgonda, Khammam, Guntur and Krishna. Presently she is in West Godavari. Sharmila is scheduled to cover a total of 3,000 kms covering all the 23 districts in the state. They made all to sit up and take note
Two women — Y S Vijayalakshmi and Sharmila who had nothing to do with politics till May 27, 2012, were forced to don the mantle of political leadership following the arrest of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy by CBI on that fateful day. The two women took up the challenge, went on state wide campaign braving the heat wave for almost 10 hours a day from May 31, 2012 and stunned the two political rivals. Vijayalakshmi, 54, entered politics following the tragic death of her husband Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. The first by- election where she was the candidate was a smooth affair as all other parties stayed out in mark of respect to YSR. But in the subsequent by- elections, all other parties had to sweat it out but still could not succeed indefeating her.
Sharmila, 34, was a simple homemaker and her political experience was limited to accompanying her father occasionally when he used to address rallies. Now, rising to the occasion she has emerged as the star campaigner for the party explaining the case of her brother on one hand and promising a great future for people, while effectively targeting the opposition. Reading takes most of the time In the last four months, he also started reading books on welfare and development programmes implemented by different states and different countries in Asia and Europe Patan Afzal Babu YSR Congress Party president YS Jaganmohan Reddy is a ‘god fearing man’. He always believes winning the confidence of people is the only weapon to achieve heights in politics and become a statesman. Apart from his father and former chief minister YS Rajaekhara Reddy, his role models are – Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi who fought for the freedom of their people in their respective countries by languishing in jails for years. Jagan, who was incarcerated exactly one year ago on May 27 in the 150 year old Chenchalguda jail in connection with disproportionate assets case probed by the CBI, is quite different in his character and behavior from what his opponents call the 40 year old young politician to be an ‘ arrogant and a political opportunist.’ According to knowledgeable sources, since the day he landed in the jail, Jagan never felt sad. He always appears with a smiley face and looks confident. He is always humble and listens to others carefully during interactions. Jail sources said Jagan, who was allotted prisoner number 6093, felt very unhappy on a few occasions. Whenever he listened allegations made against his father YSR by the ruling Congress, he felt hurt. ‘He maintains silence for some time and spends time alone in his special room.’ The recent sweeping remarks made by state Finance Minister A Ramanarayama Reddy against YSR shattered Jagan. In his daily life in the jail, as a special class prisoner in a separate enclosure, Jagan devoted most of his time in reading books. He preferred to read the biographies of Gandhi, Mandela and Suu Kyi. Sources said early in the morning he spends most of his time reading news papers. In the last four months, he also started reading books on welfare and development programmes implemented by different states and different countries in Asia and Europe. Besides, Jagan spend at least one hour reading Bible every day. During ‘mulakat’ with his party leaders, family members and the newly joining leaders from other parties, Jagan instills confidence among them that ‘ nothing will happen to him and ultimately justice will prevail’. He always says that his fight against the government and opposition party will yield positive results with the support of people only. He strongly believes – ‘people’s support is the only weapon’ to defeat his opponents. He asks party men to be with people only and fight on their problems. Though jail provides non- vegetarian food, Jagan prefers vegetarian meals. He takes a glass of milk in the morning and fruit juices in the afternoon and evening before having lunch and dinner. As the prison does not have a gym, Jagan is keeping himself fit and healthy through vigorous physical exercises like jogging, sources say. Sometimes, he plays shuttle with his co- prisoners in the jail. He is provided separate toilets and air cooler in the summer.