In the dock
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Even as it appeared that the Congress was flailing to meet the political challenge posed by the Jagan Mohan Reddy mobilisation in Andhra Pradesh, the CBI has charged Jagan with money-laundering, operating through front companies and fake bank accounts and shareholders, and fudging evaluations. Jagan is yet to have his day in court. But in the circumstances, his arrest is bound to be seen against the backdrop of the building political confrontation.
If the issue is corruption, then the story could be much larger than Jagan or his father, the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. It may implicate the Congress in uncomfortable ways. The five ministers who have been served notices by the CBI, in addition to former excise minister Mopidevi Venkataramana who has been arrested, are the party's own. After all, not long ago, Andhra Pradesh was the Congress's proud centrepiece, under its all-powerful chief minister, YSR. The Congress appreciated YSR's political capital and fund-raising acumen, the state benefited from his many lavish welfare schemes, and he even co-opted much of the opposition. He delivered 29 critical Lok Sabha seats to the Congress in 2004, and 33 in 2009, and by all accounts, the Congress didn't seem to care, back then, if his chief ministership coincided with his son's business interests and assets multiplying in value. After YSR's sudden death, all the calculations appear to have unravelled. When he wasn't automatically acknowledged as YSR's political heir, Jagan set himself on a collision course with the party. His Odarpu yatra, ostensibly meant to console grieving families across the state, was aimed at consolidating and claiming his father's triumphs for himself, and drumming up opposition to the Congress. He notched some victories, bringing away MLAs to the fledgling YSR Congress, and looked poised for the upcoming test of strength in
by-elections to 18 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in Nellore next month.
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