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Cong infighting erupts again: Jagan’s followers torch buses
Published on 27 Sep. 2009 11:21 PM IST
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The differences in Andhra Pradesh’s ruling Congress over Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s successor again erupted Sunday as a group claiming to support the late chief minister’s son, Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy, torched two buses in Rajahamundry town to protest a party MP’s remarks on the issue. A group of unidentified people, believed to be members of the Jagan Yuva Sena, a youth organisation demanding Jagan be made the chief minister, set afire two state transport buses. They were protesting against Amalapuram MP Harsha Kumar’s remarks on the campaign for Jagan as chief minister. Harsha Kumar had Saturday demanded that the state ministers and others campaigning for Jagan should resign for “blackmailing” the party’s central leadership. The Rajhamundry incident took place despite an appeal by the late chief minister’s close friend K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao to Jagan’s followers to be patient. Rao, who is leading the campaign for Jagan as the chief minister, had Saturday asked party cadres to wait for the high command’s decision. Meanwhile, an incident in the party’s Khammam district office where some people claiming to be Jagan’s followers tore a banner carrying the picture of Congress president Sonia Gandhi has snowballed into a major row with senior leaders demanding stringent action against those involved. Rajya Sabha member V.Hanumantha Rao, former state Congress chief K. Keshava Rao, Congress Working Committee member G. Venkatswamy and former Khammam MP and minister Renuka Chowdary Sunday demanded that those involved in the incident be expelled from the party. The senior leaders said they would not tolerate this insult to the party chief. “What is the Congress party without Sonia Gandhi?” asked Keshava Rao, who demanded action against those responsible. “Whoever they may be, they can’t achieve anything by this goondaism,” Chowdary maintained. The incident took place Friday when Jagan’s followers vented their ire on a banner carrying Chowdary’s picture to protest her opposition to making Jagan the chief minister. However, the entire banner, which also had Gandhi’s picture, was damaged. M. Veerappa Moily, the Congress general secretary in-charge of Andhra Pradesh, said in New Delhi the central leadership had taken serious note of the Khammam incident. Chief Minister K. Rosaiah Sunday condemned the incident and said he would ask the police to book a case. “If they were Congress workers, they will be immediately expelled from the party,” he said. Home Minister P. Sabita Indra Reddy has directed state police chief S.S.P. Yadav to take stringent action against those involved. Meanwhile, Khammam police Sunday registered a case against 24 people on a complaint from the district Congress leaders. YSR, as Rajasekhara Reddy was popularly known, died in a helicopter crash along with four others in Kurnool district Sep 2. Their bodies were found in dense forests the next day. Finance Minister Rosaiah was later sworn in as the chief minister. However, YSR’s loyalists in the cabinet, as also a section of MPs and state legislators have been demanding that his 37-year-old son succeed him. With the central leadership delaying a decision amid indications that the 77-year-old Rosaiah might continue as the chief minister, Jagan’s camp is growing impatient. Jagan himself addressed a massive public meeting near the crash site Friday to send clear signals to party’s central leadership. Senior party leaders opposing Jagan as the chief minister, as also YSR’s rivals who were so far lying low, have thrown their weight behind Rosaiah.

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