The rise and rise of Jagan Mohan Reddy

Yeduguri Sandinti Jaganmohan Reddy (YSJR), 46, the only son of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy (YSR), emerged as the giant killer in the recently concluded 2019 Andhra elections, winning both the Lok Sabha and State Assembly Polls.

Jagan’s rise to the highest position in the state is nothing but a story of grit and determination. In fact, it has all the makings of a blockbuster Telugu movie set in Andhra Pradesh.  In 2004, Jagan started his political career, campaigning for the Congress party in Kadapa District and in 2009, he was elected as Member of Parliament from Kadapa constituency.

In September 2009, when YSR died in a helicopter crash, the Congress party snubbed YSJR’s dynastic inheritance claims to the Chief Minister’s post. Though the signature campaign by majority legislators favoured YSJR to be their Chief Minister, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, the top brass of Congress denied the opportunity.

YSJR undertook odarpu yatra (condolence tour), six months after his father’s death, hinting a rebellion against the Congress party. He met the families of those who committed suicide on hearing the news of his father’s death.

On 29 November 2010 when Sonia Gandhi denied meeting YSJR and his mother, he rebelled and announced about starting a new political party. Later, his new political party YSR went to by-polls in Kadapa district and won all the seats with stunning numbers. In the aftermath, the Congress party did not find a strong leader in AP just before the 2014 polls.

YSJR also faced cases foisted by the Congress party high command and served jail term. In jail, Reddy opposed the United Progressive Alliance’s decision to create a separate Telangana state and started a hunger strike. After his release, Reddy and his mother Vijayamma called for a 72-hour bandh protesting the formation of Telangana. Later, both of them resigned from their legislatures opposing the Telangana decision.

In the following elections, YSJR did not win in the Andhra Pradesh assembly elections even after putting up a spirited fight to Telugu Desam Party led by seasoned Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

YSJR did not give up the fight even when TDP lured 23 of his MLAs and 3 MPs to their fold. Later, YSJR launched his 3,000-km-long walkathon, named Praja SankalpaYatra from his native Kadapa district.

YSR Congress party started a slogan “Raavali Jagan, Kaavali Jagan” (Jagan should come. We want Jagan) and went across 125 Assembly segments in 13 districts of the state in 430 days. He exceeded his father’s record of “Padayatra” stretching over 1,475 kms as part of his election campaign. YSJR was attacked on his shoulder in the VIP lounge of Visakhapatnam Airport and underwent surgery.

In the past, YSR’s walk aided the Congress party to bounce back to power after decade-long political oblivion, now Jaganmohan Reddy’s “Praja Sankalpa Yatra” has helped him to power. YSJR wave has swept the TDP aside, handing it one of the worst defeats in its four-decade history. Throughout YSJR’s journey, his mother Vijayamma and sister Sharmila stood by him to help their family recapture the political glory.

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