The Congress is carrying out a detailed review of its election prospects in major states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and as part of this exercise, it is considering the possibility of a rapprochement with Jagan Reddy, leader of the YSR Congress.
The party's top leadership is also taking a hard look at the performance of Chief Ministers Prithviraj Chavan, Kiran Kumar Reddy and Ashok Gehlot, to determine if the Congress-led UPA can return to power in 2014 with these leaders in charge, a Congress party strategist familiar with the exercise said.
Jagan, the son of the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister, is currently in jail after being charged with various acts of corruption by the CBI. YS Vijaya Lakshmi, Jagan's mother, had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 4, as head of a delegation of YSR Congress leaders, to allege a witch-hunt by the CBI.
A senior source in the Congress says a meeting also took place between Vijaya Lakshmi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi but this was strongly denied by YSR Congress leaders, who accused the Congress of spreading rumours to discourage its cadres from joining the regional party. ET was not able to independently confirm if this meeting had taken place. The Congress strategist quoted earlier cautioned that no final decision had been arrived at.
Plan to Strengthen Position
But another Congress leader said that it was just a "matter of time" before Jagan comes back into the Congress fold. Both spoke on condition of anonymity. Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari did not respond to messages sent to his mobile phone.
Leaders of the YSR Congress denied the fledging party, which backed the UPA's candidate for President, Pranab Mukherjee, had any intention of returning to the parent party. But they said a lack of options might compel them to support the Congress at the centre while insisting there would be no tie-up at the state level.
"Jagan had ruled out joining hands with BJP-led or supported alliance, which narrows down options before YSR Congress, which wants to represent the non-communalist and secular forces," said a senior YSR Congress leader.
However, YSR Congress is yet to take a formal decision on the role it plans to play in national politics. Party leaders said the primary objective of the party, which swept recent by-elections in Andhra Pradesh, was to further consolidate its position in the southern state.
The possibility of a rapprochement between the Congress and Jagan is a result of the party's top leadership realising that it had mishandled the political situation in Andhra Pradesh after the death of YSR in 2009, according to people familiar with the thinking of the Congress leadership.
The party currently has 33 members of Parliament from the state,which include several Jagan loyalists. There is also recognition of the fact that Kiran Kumar Reddy, the chief minister, had not able to check Jagan.
ETPublished Date: 2012-08-02 14:58:23 GMT