Jagan Mohan Reddy wants to corner the Centre for not granting special status to Andhra Pradesh.
Even as YSR Congress’ five Lok Sabha members submitted their resignations to Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday, there is little possibility that the Election Commission would order byelections, given that the 2019 general elections are less than a year away.
YSR Congress won eight Lok Sabha seats in 2014, but three of them have since joined the ruling TDP and now only five are left with Jagan. The MPs—Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy, Y.V. Subba Reddy, Vara Prasad, Avinash Reddy and Midhun Reddy—resigned as per party president Jagan Mohan Reddy’s wish on the last day of the Budget session of Parliament.
The resignations are part of the party’s strategy to corner the Centre for not granting special status to Andhra Pradesh, as had been promised at the time of the undivided state’s bifurcation. Jagan has made it clear that nothing short of a special status would satisfy his party or do justice to the beleaguered people of AP.
The Speaker, according to sources, did not appear ready to accept the resignations forthwith as she advised them to rethink their decision. When Rajamohan Reddy said resignation was the only way they could pressure the Centre, Mahajan suggested that they can fight better as MPs.
Mahajan told the MPs that they can utilise their opportunities in the Lok Sabha to achieve their demands. A senior YSR Congress leader, who accompanied the MPs to the Speaker, told this newspaper that it was unlikely that the resignations would be accepted very soon. Moreover, the Speaker had the right to verify the resignations by calling the members individually to her chamber.
If the process of verification and acceptance of the resignations take a month or two, then the chances of EC holding byelections would be even bleaker.
Some legal experts on the Parliamentary procedures told this newspaper that the Speaker was not bound to accept the resignations even if they are in the Speaker’s format, in case the members collectively submit their papers or tender resignations in an emotional state or on an emotional issue. The Speaker had every right to verify each and every resignation separately, they said.
Currently, YSR Congress and the TDP are engaged in a sort of one-upmanship game to prove who is more committed towards the special status demand.
The YSR Congress MPs, after handing over their papers to the Speaker in her office at 11.45 am on Friday, straightaway went to Andhra Pradesh Bhavan at Ashoka Road in New Delhi and sat on a fast unto death to press for their demands. Though the premises of Andhra Bhavan is controlled by the AP government, law and order maintenance is the job of the Delhi police.
Jagan has called upon people in Andhra to take up relay-hunger strikes in solidarity with the fasting MPs in New Delhi and asked some of his senior leaders to go to the national capital. Already, a dozen of MLAs and MLCs have reached New Delhi and they sat along with the MPs at Andhra Bhavan where crowds had begun swelling by Saturday morning.
AP government’s special representative and former TDP MP, Kambhampati Ramamohan Rao told this newspaper that the government would take a decision on shifting the striking MPs to hospital if their condition deteriorated in the next one or two days. “We cannot take chances with aged MPs like Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy,” Rao said.
YSR Congress has put out banners and hoardings across the state highlighting the sacrifices of its MPs who had given up their memberships a year before their term ended.
TDP MPs too staged a sit-in first in the well of the Lok Sabha and then in the office of the Speaker for close to six hours after the House was adjourned on Friday.