With Jagan in jail, mother to lead party campaign

Hyderabad: With her son Jaganmohan Reddy in jail, YS Vijaya will lead the campaign of YSR Congress in the June 12 by-elections to 17 assembly and one Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh. Vijaya, a housewife who entered politics after the death of her husband and former chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy in a chopper crash in 2009, was urged by the party`s General Council today to take the mantle of her son in the by-elections, seen as precursor to the 2014 general elections.

The by-elections will be held in the non-Telangana areas of coastal and Rayalseema regions where it would be the first major test for the fledgling party vis a vis the Congress after Jagan parted ways with the ruling party. After a CBI court remanded Jagan in judicial custody till June 11 in a disproportionate assets case, Vijaya, who is YSR Congress honorary president, broke her fast to lead the party`s campaign after the Council met this afternoon.

An MLA from Pulivendla, Vijaya launched the fast last night to protest the arrest of Jagan by the CBI and became emotional on hearing news that he had been sent to judicial remand for 14 days. YSRC candidate from Parakal, Konda Surekha, offered lemon juice to Vijaya to end the fast. Other leaders of the party offered juice to Jagan`s wife Bharati and sister Sharmila who too sat on fast with Vijaya.

YSRC sources said a detailed tour programme was being worked out and she might hit the campaign trail in a day or two beginning from Nellore. Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer today directed the state police chief not to indiscriminately detain the YSR Congress Party workers and leaders in the name of maintaining law and order following a complaint by Vijaya.

State Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwar Lal wrote a letter to the Director General of Police V Dinesh Reddy in this regard. Even the party`s candidates contesting the June 12 by-elections are being detained and also kept under house arrest, Vijaya alleged.