Congress stakes claim to YSR's political legacy

New Delhi/Hyderabad:  In a clear attempt by the Congress to claim YS Rajasekhara Reddy's political legacy, his diary was released in the national capital on Friday in the presence of senior party leaders.

The late Andhra Pradesh chief minister's close aide and Congress MP KVP Ramachandra Rao has brought out the diary which he wrote during the 'padyatra', his 64-day walkathon in 2003, which catapulted Congress to power in the state the next year.

Senior Congress leaders including Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Digvijay Singh, RK Dhawan and Vaylar Ravi attended the diary release function at Andhra Pradesh Bhavan.

His party described YSR as a staunch Congress leader and disciplined solider of the party. "He was a hardcore Congressman. His rich political legacy belongs to Congress. No one else can claim it," said Mr Ravi.

Mr Vora recalled how YSR held Nehru-Gandhi family in high esteem and named all development and welfare schemes after Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

What has triggered speculations in political circles is the message sent by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Even the invitation card sent by Ramachandra Rao, carried her name.

State Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana, film actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, several state ministers and MPs attended the function, which attracted criticism from a section of Congress leaders who want the party to disown the late leader in view of the ongoing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into corruption scandals during his tenure.

YSR, as the late leader was popularly known, died in a helicopter crash in Sep 2009, a few months after he led the party to second successive term in the state.

Sidelined by the leadership, his son YS Jaganmohan Reddy quit the party in 2010 and floated YSR Congress Party last year. He was arrested by the CBI in May this year in disproportionate assets case.

The CBI believes Jagan amassed huge wealth as the government of his father and then Chief Minister issued orders benefiting individuals and companies which invested in his businesses.

The CBI has already arrested a state minister and charge sheeted another for issuing controversial orders as ministers in YSR cabinet. Four other ministers are also facing the similar allegations.

Though Ramachandra Rao did not join YSR Congress party, his rivals see him as Jagan's man in the Congress party. At a party meeting held at state Congress office last month, Ramachandra Rao paid tributes to YSR and lamented the absence of his portraits in the meeting hall.

Ramachandra Rao, a member of Rajya Sabha, is reportedly trying to bring Congress and YSR Congress closer. He is making the attempts in the backdrop of a recent survey by a television channel, which predicts YSR Congress will sweep 2014 Lok Sabha elections in the state.

Political observers feel in the absence of a charismatic leader in the state, the Congress party wants to cash in on the still popular image of YSR. The YSR Congress party has succeeded doing the same by sweeping the by-elections in June.

In Hyderabad, YSR's bitter critic and MP V Hanumantha Rao is holding a meeting Saturday to demand the Congress disown YSR's legacy. He believes the corruption scandals during YSR rule were damaging the party.

Another senior leader KR Amos demanded that YSR loyalists like Ramachandra Rao should either stop praising YSR or join YSR Congress Party. He recalled how YSR's widow YS Vijayalakshmi and other family members targeted Sonia Gandhi in the by-elections campaign.

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