Zero or Hero? Flashback to July 2010. P Shankar Rao, Congress MLA – “Whoever stays in Congress will be a hero. Whoever leaves the party will become a zero”.
This was when Jagan rebelled against the Congress after the death of his much-loved father and Congress CM, YS Rajashekhara Reddy in a “mysterious” helicopter crash.
Fast forward to June 16, 2012, YSR Congress party led by YS Jaganmohan Reddy trounced/bulldozed the Congress in a by-election winning 15 of the 18 Assembly seats and 1 Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh.
Jagan must be ecstatic and celebrating. Sure, but from inside Chanchalguda Central Jail, Hyderabad where the 39-year-old is currently a guest of the CBI as Prisoner no 6093 since his arrest on the May 27, 2012.
Because he defeated Congress in the by-election? No because he’s been accused of cheating, conspiracy and breach of trust by a public servant. He’s been slapped with charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery of documents, criminal breach of trust and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Oh! The CBI is investigating how Jagan became one of the richest MPs in the country. There are allegations that companies invested in his businesses in return for favours and benefits from the Congress government when daddy was CM. Incidentally, his father YSR Reddy has also been named in the charge-sheet.
Ok so, um, why wasn’t this investigation done earlier? Er, because pre-YSR’s death, Jagan wasn’t a thorn in the Congress’ bum. And YSR was a Congress CM! Now that he’s popped it, it’s ok to call a long-standing CM and leader for 30 years with the Congress in Andhra a cheat.
Can you do that? After someone’s died? Sure. Unless you’re Rajiv Gandhi being charge-sheeted in the Bofors case. Then your chamchas can create a big hue and cry over it in an attempt to stop you from being charge-sheeted after your death. Not that it worked there either.
Aah! So the arrest didn’t really help huh? Total boomerang. It makes you wonder if anyone in the Congress high command actually thinks things through.
So Jagan was a zero? Well, not really. Born on December 21, 1972, Jagan’s first foray into business was in 1999-2000 when he set up a mini-power company, Sandur in Karnataka. He was only 27.
His first foray was a power company?! A cautious beginning, but coincidentally after his father became CM in 2004, his businesses skyrocketed and Jagan was the high-profile industrialist who had his hands in everything from power to infrastructure to mining, cement and media. Jagan’s wealth stems mainly from four ventures – Sandur Power Company, Bharati Cement Corporation, Jagati Publications which publishes Telugu daily Sakshi and Indira Television which broadcasts Sakshi. He is reported to have received over Rs 3,000 crore when he sold Bharati Cement to French cement maker, Vicat SA, in April 2010.
Talk about a self-made man. Such was his meteoric rise that in 2003-04 his declared assets were Rs 9.19 lakh. The total value of family assets declared by YSR during the 2004 elections was only Rs 50 lakh. By the time he was contesting the by-elections to Kadapa Lok Sabha seat in May 2011, Jagan’s assets were worth Rs 365.68 crore!
Wow! Astounding business acumen. Truly remarkable. He’s built a palatial house in posh Jubilee Hills in Hyderabad, and also reportedly has a house in Bengaluru spread over 32 acres with 10 elevators, badminton and squash courts and 75 rooms.
75 rooms!? Yes. His mom, wife and daughters in three and the members of his ancestral village in the other 72.
Give him a break. He’s had a tough time lately. Just when things were looking hunky-dory, his father YS Rajashekhara Reddy went and died in a helicopter crash on September 2, 2009. YSR’s Bell 430 Helicopter went missing on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 9:35 am in the Nallamala forest area (a Naxalite-infested area). The wreckage was found on top of Rudrakonda Hill, 74 km from Kurnool.
Official conclusion: Problem with the transmission oil pressure system that distracted the crew from the worsening weather for more than six minutes. Pilots never discussed the bad weather, diverting or returning to base.
Unofficial conclusion? There were a few conspiracy theories floated around back then, none of which led anywhere.
So the Naxalites killed him? No, that was ruled out.
Ok, so his own party killed him? Why would they kill their golden goose!? However, (cue conspiratorial music) there was always the Ambani gas dispute angle.
What gas disp…? Nobody made much of a noise, but Jagan’s mother Y.S. Vijayalakshmi has brought up the conspiracy theories ever since Jagan’s arrest. Not only did she lose her husband, they wouldn’t make her son the CM? Can you imagine?
Poor woman. Post YSR’s death, Dr KVP Ramachandra Rao a.k.a. KVP, an MP and chief advisor to YS Rajasekhara Reddy along with other Congress MPs, pressed for YS Jagan to take on the post of Chief Minister. Instead, the Congress insisted on the political veteran, Finance Minister Konijeti Rosaiah. What a disgrace!
Poor Jagan. Yes, but good samaritan that he is, six months after his father’s death and his failed attempt at becoming CM, he began a condolence tour (Odarpu Yatra) around AP.
A what? A yatra where he went around consoling the families of anywhere from 60-122 people (depending on which news organisation you believe) who had thankfully eliminated themselves from the gene pool by dying of shock/suicide after hearing of YSR’s death. Even though Jagan had appealed to them not to.
Noble. The Congress party’s central leadership directed Jagan to call off the Odarpu Yatra, but he refused.
Did he succeed? Oh yeah. Thousands upon thousands poured into the streets of Srikakulam to welcome Jaganmohan Reddy as he arrived there on his father’s birth anniversary. “My father did not leave me orphaned, but with a huge family”, Jagan wept to emotional crowds. Or some such melodramatic dialogue.
Just like a Bollywood movie! Yes, complete with an arrest in the volatile Telengana district in May 2010 after which Madamji summoned him to Delhi and asked to stop the yatra. He refused and decided to show Congress who was boss, elevating himself instantly to the Top 3 Problem Areas For the Congress.
Who are the other two? Never mind.
Nevertheless, the yatra was successful and established Jagan as a major political force in state politics. He resigned from the Congress party on November 29, 2010 and on February 16, 2010 became president of the YSR Congress Party.
So what’s the plan now? Well, Jagan is supposedly a very determined fellow when it comes to achieving his goals and is prepared to take any risk. While his dad would never have dared to defy the Congress high command in his three-decade-long political career, Jagan had no such reservations and rebelled instantly on being denied the CM’s chair.
And with this victory and a conjugal visit in jail from his beaming wife, things are looking good for him. What was a credible case against him now looks like political vendetta and the recent electoral debacle in Andhra has made the Congress look foolish. If Jagan’s intelligent, he’ll just wait for the Congress to screw up. Again.
If you pop in to visit him in jail:
Don’t: Mention you know about the conjugal visit.
Do: Take a CD of ‘Koi Hero Yahaan, Koi Zero Yahaan’ from Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.
Image: [ Swarnabha Banerjee]