YSR Congress party president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has sprung a surprise by announcing his support to the BJP’s candidate in the upcoming Presidential elections, after a 50-minute long meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Wednesday. YSR Congress has eight Lok Sabha MPs, one Rajya Sabha MP, 46 MLAs and seven MLCs in Andhra Pradesh.
With this, the BJP can enjoy the unique distinction of mustering all the electoral votes from Andhra Pradesh, as ruling TDP is already its NDA ally. Apart from the YSR Congress, there is no other political party in the 175-member strong AP Assembly. Of the 25 total Lok Sabha MPs, remaining 17 belong to the ruling TDP.
In AP, the opposition camp may not get a single vote in the presidential election this time.
The meeting, which came against the backdrop of the BJP’s efforts to muster support to its candidate in the presidential elections for which the process is expected to commence in a few weeks, has surprised the political circles as the Congress-led opposition was toying with the idea of consulting Jagan on this issue soon.
On the invitation of the PM’s Office (PMO) on Tuesday, Jagan flew to Delhi immediately and called on PM Modi at his official residence, 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, and had a detailed meeting on a range of issues that concern him, besides the presidential elections. Jagan was accompanied by MPs Mekapati Raja Mohan Reddy, Y.S. Avinash Reddy, P.V. Mithun Reddy (all Lok Sabha) and Vijaya Sai Reddy (Rajya Sabha).
The meeting was held in two parts: first Jagan, along with his MPs’ delegation, submitted a six-page note to the PM seeking his attention to four major issues—grant of special status to AP, disqualification of 21 YSR Congress MLAs who defected to TDP, ensuring minimum support prices for mrichi farmers and probe into illegal money deposits scam by an Agri Gold company of CM Chandrababu Naidu’s son Lokesh.
Jagan presented the PM a report, titled “Emperor of Corruption” targeting CM Naidu and listed out scores of corruption charges against the TDP government. The main thrust of Jagan was on inaction of the AP Assembly Speaker into his petition to disqualify as many as 21 MLAs who had defected to TDP in the past three years.
Jagan also raised the issue of special status to AP which is a core issue of his party and reminded the PM that he, too, had promised during his 2014 election campaign meeting at Tirupati to grant the same if the BJP-led NDA came to power. Jagan told the PM that granting a special financial package to AP cannot replace the special status demand.
This meeting lasted about 10 minutes. Later, Jagan had a 40-minute long one-on-one meeting with the PM where he discussed about the presidential elections as well as scope for future relations between both the parties in AP, according to a YSR Congress MP who spoke to The Sunday Guardian on the condition of anonymity.
“Though it is too early to talk about future election alliance between BJP and YSR, both the leaders had discussed about the coming presidential elections and our leader (Jagan) had promised our full support to the BJP’s candidate, whoever he or she is,” said the MP on phone from Delhi. The PM is learnt to have thanked Jagan for the offer.
Perhaps Jagan may be the first leader of a non-NDA party to extended support to the BJP even before it finalised its Presidential candidate.
With this, AP will be a rare state in the country where BJP will get 100% votes in the presidential election. This also dashed hopes of the Congress-led opposition to find support to a candidate to take on BJP.