Hyderabad: In a significant political development in Andhra Pradesh, the main Opposition YSRC, which has been maintaining a neutral stand, said on Wednesday that it would vote for the BJP-sponsored candidate in the Presidential election.
Party president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who had tried unsuccessfully to get an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his last trip to Delhi, suddenly got a call from the Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday informing him that an appointment has been fixed for Wednesday. Immediately after the meeting, Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy announced that his party would support any BJP candidate.
There has been speculation that the YSRC will have a tie-up with the BJP in the 2019 elections by leaving as many as 15 to 18 Lok Sabha seats to the BJP while retaining a majority of seats in the Assembly.
Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy first met with the Prime Minister for a few minutes with the Prime Minister, along with party MPs Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy, P. Mithun Reddy and V. Vijay Sai Reddy. Then Mr Reddy had a one-on-one meeting with Mr Modi lasting for more than 40 minutes.
Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy said there should not be a contest for such a high constitutional post like that of the President and the choice should be unanimous.
“There is no scope of victory for the Opposition candidate. I don’t know what Ms Sonia Gandhi is going to do, but I feel there should be no election for such a high post. I have told the Prime Minister that my party will extend full support and vote for the BJP candidate in the election,” he said.
He said that though the Congress was responsible for putting him behind bars during the last Presidential election, he had voted for the Congress's Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee. This time Mr Reddy has announced his support for the BJP's choice without the party naming its nominee.
The YSRC, which commands majority support among minorities, SCs, STs, and a few prominent upper castes, had denied all speculation of a possible tie-up with the BJP on the eve of the 2014 general election, stating that it was a secular party that cannot align with the communal BJP.
But, on Wednesday, Mr Reddy said: “There are no major differences for me with the BJP except on two issues — special category status to Andhra Pradesh, and the land acquisition Bill. Except for these two, we have been supporting the BJP in all its pro-people issues and there is no question of support to anti-people issues. If they offer special category status, we will further support the BJP.”
Wednesday’s developments have not gone down well with Telugu Desam in AP. “How can the Prime Minister give appointment to Jagan when he is facing several criminal and corruption charges,” asked a senior TD functionary.
TD leaders have been openly critical of Mr Reddy meeting the Prime Minister on earlier occasions, alleging that it was for the purpose of begging Mr Modi not to rush the corruption cases against him and not to put him behind bars again. The TD is understandably worried that a BJP-YSRC tie-up for the 2019 elections is a possibility.
Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy says he told PM of Naidu graft
During his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, YSRC president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, demanded a CBI probe into alleged corruption in the Agri Gold assets auction allegedly involving ministers, including IT minister Nara Lokesh.
Mr Reddy submitted a booklet, 'Emperor of Corruption', brought out by the YSRC some time ago, on the corruption allegations against AP Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.
Speaking to the press in New Delhi after meeting the Prime Minister, Mr Reddy said that a copy of the booklet had been given to the Prime Minister earlier, “but today I personally handed over the same to Modiji and demanded action.”
He said he had complained to the Prime Minister that Mr Naidu had lured 20 YSRC MLAs to join the Telugu Desam and four of these MLAs were taken into the Cabinet in a fraudulent manner.
In a representation submitted to the Prime Minister, he mentioned the cash-for-votes scam in which Mr Naidu is allegedly involved. He said Mr Naidu had spent crores of rupees of his ill-gotten wealth and bought YSRC MLAs into the TD fold.
Mr Reddy said he has sought a CBI inquiry into the Agri Gold scam in which TD leaders and ministers, including Mr Lokesh, are alleged to be involved. He said the CID inquiry did not go into all aspects of the scam.
He said he also told the Prime Minister to consider special category status for Andhra Pradesh as was promised by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha....