Amaravati: In what it looks like a tug of war, the ruling YSR Congress Lok Sabha member Kanumuru Raghurama Krishna Raju in Andhra Pradesh is stretching his war of words beyond a point, aiming at Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, to his advantage.
The 57-year old first-time MP, elected from Narsapur in the paddy-rich West Godavari district, has been sending out ample signals over his inclinations to crossover to the BJP for a long time. Thus, Raju is seen crossing the swords with the party top brass willing to be axed on grounds of defiance. His defection may attract disqualification under Anti-Defection Act with his continuance under the umbrella of the party which sent him to the Lok Sabha. The helmsmen in the YSR Congress obviously feel ill at ease at noises made by Raju quote often.
Raju raised the banner of revolt against the party founder Jagan Reddy afresh, close on the heels of nearly half a dozen ruling party lawmakers voicing their dissent over the functioning of their party government in the last one year. What’s common in the grievances aired by Raju and the other fellow-lawmakers being that the Chief Minister is becoming an authoritarian by failing to act in consultation with the lawmakers and the party leaders. In a TV interview, Raju said there are at least 70 percent of YSRC MLAs who failed to get a chance to meet the CM in person since their election.
Firing the first salvo
The firebrand MP sought to shatter the image of Jagan Reddy as a leader with a popular base with which he rode to power by winning 151 seats in the 175-member state Assembly and 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in the general elections in April, 2019. Raju asserted that he not only won the Narsapur Parliament seat, a TDP stronghold, with a comfortable majority but also helped seven MLAs under his constituency win with his own image. He even accused Jagan of instigating caste conflicts and turning a blind eye to the MLAs tainted in illegal sand extraction and irregularities in acquisition of lands meant for house sites to the poor. The MP also found fault with the manner in which TDP’s former minister K. Achen Naidu was arrested by the state police in an alleged ESI scam.
Several MLAs joined chorus with Information and Public Relations Minister Perni Venkataramaiah alias Nani to publicly assail their party rebel MP apparently at the instance of the CM. The recriminations from both sides dented the image of the YSR Congress as a party led by powerful leader like Jaganmohan Reddy.
The industrialist-turned Raju is known as a leader with political fluidities. He joined the Jagan’s party after it was floated and deserted it in 2014 after he failed to get a ticket for Narspur Parliament seat. Raju, subsequently, switched to the BJP which also denied him a ticket in that election. Later, he went to the TDP and was back to the YSRC a month before the elections in 2019 to contest from Narasapur.
Do the postures of Raju signal the imminent in-house troubles within the ruling party? If so, Jagan Reddy may find it difficult to take forward his controversial projects such as the distributive capitals in the near future, experts feel.