The politics in Andhra Pradesh can sometimes be very strange. The meeting of Asaduddin Owaisi of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Jagan Mohan Reddy at the Chanchalguda jail has raised many eyebrows. Sources in the YSR Congress party now tell rediff.com that the party would chose the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee as president for two reasons- one they feel he is the best choice and secondly they would not want to side with the NDA at any cost.
Owaisi’s meeting with Jagan has led to speculation that an attempt was being made to broker peace between the Congress and the YSR Congress which had a falling out as a result of which the former suffered a major set back in the recently held by poll. Owaisi had told reporters in Hyderabad point blank that the meeting was nothing more but only dealt with the discussion regarding the Presidential poll. Owaisi said that during the discussion Jagan was requested to support the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee.
Sources in the YSR Congress say that whether or not Owaisi had met Jagan, the party would have still supported the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee. The reasons assigned for supporting the Congress led UPA’s candidate is because the party feels that he is a seasoned politician, has a great stature and also is a very capable leader.
The other question that comes to mind is why would Jagan side with a candidate from the Congress especially when he has declared war against the same party in Andhra Pradesh. Jagan’s party states that between the UPA and the NDA they would still side with the former despite it having the Congress in it. YSR Congress party sources say that siding with the NDA would mean supporting the BJP and this would put them at risk of losing the 8 per cent Muslim vote in Andhra Pradesh. Moreover the decision by Jagan’s father, Dr. Y S Rajasekara Reddy to provide a 4 per cent reservation for Muslims in both the education sector and in government jobs has appeased the Muslims a great deal and Jagan would not like to toy with that equation. This decision taken by YSR is however pending judicial scrutiny.
While this is one part of the story, the other is obviously an attempt to patch things up between Jagan and the Congress. Although Jagan beat the Congress out of recognition in the by-elections he still needs some favour from the Congress thanks to the CBI probe against him. Moreover the Congress too realises that taking Jagan on in Andhra Pradesh has done no good to their poll prospects and the results in the by-elections are nothing but a pre cursor to what can happen in the assembly elections slated next year.
Although Owaisi is in denial that he was sent by the UPA to broker peace with Jagan, many political observers believe that there is definitely an attempt being made to patch things up. Jagan would not have met anyone from the Congress and it would have looked very obvious had the Congress decided to send one of their men. Owaisi who is a part of the UPA was a better choice for the Congress.
Owaisi and Jagan go a long way back and have been the thickest of friends even before Jagan joined politics. Whether there was an issue or not Owaisi would have still met with Jagan as they are friends. Owaisi was away from the country and hence this meeting took such a long time. Sources in the YSR Congress party say that they are not aware of what exactly transpired but add that a final decision would be taken on the issue of the Presidential election only during the core committee meeting of the party slated in the next few days. However they also add that Jagan did not commit anything to Owaisi, but remained positive about the candidature of Pranab Mukherjee.
With regard to a patch up between Jagan and the Congress, the former’s supporters say that it is highly unlikely and he would continue to fight the elections on his own. Jagan is aware that the Congress is a bit desperate at this moment and he can continue to win elections despite him being in jail. Moreover the emergency meeting convened by the Congress after the poll debacle drew a blank and even Ghulam Nabi Azad the head of the Congress Coordination Committee in Andhra Pradesh too decided to give the meeting a skip which has made the Jagan camp believe that the party is wavering without any direction.