Will Jagan’s arrest impact Presidential Polls?
The arrest of YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy by the CBI on Sunday could have huge ramifications on national politics including the forthcoming Presidential elections. The arrest barely a fortnight before the June 12 Assembly polls for 18 seats and a lone Lok Sabha seat has virtually ensured that the YSR Congress will have an extremely impressive showing. Many political pundits believe that regardless of the arrest, the YSR Congress was expected to win most if not all the seats. But after the arrest, it will be a miracle if both the Congress and TDP nominees are able to save their deposits.
The politics playing out in Andhra, which was responsible for the Congress led UPA’s two successive wins Parliamentary polls of 2004 and 2009, is likely to have its impact on not only the central politics but also the future of the Congress. YSR’s son maybe behind bars for the alleged corruption deeds but in public perception he has become a political martyr in the state. He may now consume both the Congress and the TDP in his political stride.
There has been an all-round criticism of how Jagan was arrested when so many others who are supporting the UPA government continue to enjoy all the comforts in the national capital despite equally serious charges. Young Jagan has been singled out for amassing huge wealth but many Congress ministers who could have been his likely accomplices are roaming around scot-free. His arrest has also led to the perception that the Congress has fixed him through a government agency and this amounted to using state power to settle political scores. Many more things are also being said and the main point is that political environment was getting more polluted by the day.
The other dimension to his arrest is that in the event his nominees win handsomely in the June 12th bye poll, the politics within the Congress particularly in Andhra may undergo a big change. In other words, the leadership will find it very hard to contain a revolt as Jagan will be seen as someone who can get his nominees elected and Congressmen could start gravitating towards him. Therefore the political developments within Andhra could have their ramifications both for the Central government which enjoys the support of 33 MPs from that state in the Lok Sabha and also the Presidential polls. If Jagan decides to give a call for a vote for conscience during the Presidential elections, the opponents of the Congress are likely to benefit. This benefit will be at the expense of the ruling party.
As it is, the candidacy of PA Sangma has put the Congress on the back foot and the grand old party will require all its resources and much more to defeat him if a head to head contest ensues. There are not too many who could be Congress nominees and can get the better of the former Lok Sabha speaker whose candidacy has the endorsement of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa and Biju Janata Dal superemo Naveen Patnaik. If the Congress does not put up an acceptable nominee, the allies could also back Sangma. The Presidential polls will be the ultimate game changer of national politics but the first indication of a possible change could emanate from Hyderabad on June 15th when the results of the by-elections are declared.