Congress leaders squabbled over the succession war in Andhra Pradesh on the NDTV show India 60 Minutes on Tuesday. While Andhra Agriculture Minister N Raghuveera Reddy made a strong pitch for YSR's son Jagan Mohan Reddy as chief minister, senior Congressman Hanumantha Rao, questioned the claim that YSR supporters were committing suicide because Jagan hadn't been made CM.
"Suicide claims are bogus," said Rao, who also insisted that Jagan could not be propped up as CM just because he was YSR's son.
Within hours, Rao's quote replayed on local channels with an aim to further stoke tempers against the Congress high command. And Jagan supporters warned of dire consequences.
"In connection with recent YSR's death these suicides took place. This data is given by District Collectors and not by any political party," said Danam Nagender, Minister for Health and Family Affairs, Andhra Pradesh.
"People won't excuse you if you make such comments. And the party will lose people's support, if Jagan is not made the Chief Minister," said Konda Surekha, Minister for Women and Child Welfare, Andhra Pradesh.
The Congress high command is in a dilemma, unable to end the uncertainty over who will replace YSR, who was killed in a helicopter crash last month. The party has not risked action yet against the increasing insubordination of Jagan's loyalists.
"The high command is taking care of the matter. Andhra Pradesh has suffered a tragic loss. No one should politicise it," was all that Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed would say. But the words of another Congress spokesperson, Manish Tiwari, on the show, said it all: "I have to say this is one show I wish I hadn't come on. To see two leaders squabble pains me."