Jagan rebel MLAs to join Congress

Hyderabad: The cheer seems to be back in the ruling Congress government in Andhra Pradesh, besieged with separate statehood stir, as the rebel MLAs who had joined the YSR Congress party are `keen` to return, while the TRS` move to `poach` them hitting a road block. The rapid-fire political developments, unfolded in the southern state in the backdrop of extended stir for Telangana state, seem to be settling down, political observers said.

Growing buzz in the political circles is that the majority of 26 Congress MLAs, who had shifted their loyalty to YSR Congress party led by Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of late chief minister Y S R Rajasekhara Reddy, are now retracting.

State unit Congress president Botsa Satyanarayana and government whip Kondru Murali Mohan have indicated that many of the `rebel` legislators have sent feelers about their inclination to return to the party fold. What is prompting the MLAs, who gravitated to Jagan two months back, to do a rethink on their decision is the `cold-shoulder` given to them by the Kadapa MP.

At a meeting two days ago with the MLAs and some senior leaders, who were supposed to be backing him, Jagan reportedly spoke harshly and even suggested that those "who are finding it uneasy here" might go back to the Congress. Jagan particularly spit fire on a legislator from Telangana and a couple of other leaders, leaving other MLAs red-faced.

Another factor in favour of Congress is that the TRS` plan of `attracting` some more Congress and TDP MLAs into its fold under "Operation Akarsh" has hit a roadblock amid indications that the Central government may announce its decision on separate statehood issue soon.

The TRS had to remain content with the crossover of only three MLAs from the ruling party. Although TRS spread the word that three more MLAs from the principal opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were all set to switch sides, the legislators themselves debunked such talk. "We will remain in the TDP and fight for the cause of Telangana. There is no question of joining TRS," MLAs Hanumanth Shinde, P Ramulu and S Devaiah asserted.

"The TRS is deliberately resorting to such false propaganda only to further its political interests," they alleged. These developments have brought cheer back in the Congress camp as they effectively neutralise any immediate threat to the Kiran Kumar Reddy government.

Also, the TDP`s reluctance to move a no-confidence motion against the government at this stage has come as a shot in the arm for Congress leadership. "The biggest challenge for us now is to cross the Telangana barrier. We have almost come close it and once we cross it, the road ahead becomes clear," a senior minister remarked. It seems not only Congress but all major political parties in the state are anxious to know about how the `road ahead` opens up for them.