Congress should clean the mess in Andhra: YSR's widow

New Delhi, Jan 27 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh's ruling Congress is "manipulating" the situation for its own ends and, had her husband been alive, everything would have been under control, says the widow of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. who died in a helicopter crash over three years ago.

Y.S. Vijayalakshmi Reddy, honorary president of the YSR Congress, the breakaway Congress faction headed by her son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, feels the "mess" in Andhra Pradesh over the issue of creating a separate state of Telangana is the Congress' own creation.

Vijayalakshmi Reddy, popularly known as Vijayamma, told IANS in an interview that the Congress should clean the "mess they have created in Andhra".

However, she did not clarify her party's position on creation of a separate Telangana state.

Very tactfully, Vijayamma said a decision on Telangana should be left to the "acceptance" of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

"There is a total chaos in Andhra. The Congress is manipulating the situation for their political benefit," Vijayamma told IANS during one of her visits to the national capital.

"We are not in a position to give or stop Telangana. We just want the Congress government to do it to the justification and acceptance of the people of all regions of Andhra," she said.

Vijayamma's husband, or YSR as he was popularly known, was an extremely popular leader. He was twice chief minister, from 2004-2009 and from May 20, 2009, after the Congress returned to power in the assembly elections, to Sep 2 that year when he was killed in a helicopter crash.

Jaganmohan Reddy quit the Congress in November 2010 after the party leadership refused to nominate him to succeed his father as chief minister. He is at present in jail in a corruption case that his party claims is false.

The allegations against Jaganmohan Reddy include amassing wealth by pressuring companies to "invest" in his businesses in return for various favours from his father's government when YSR was chief minister.

"The present government in Andhra does not care for the people. It is like there is no government at all. People want the state elections to take place as soon as possible," Vijayamma said.

The state is facing a political turmoil with a decision on formation of Telangana expected to be announced soon. While people in the Telangana region are demanding a separate state, leaders from Seemandhara (as the Rayalaseema and Andhra regions are referred to), have joined ranks to oppose a division of the state, threatening a showdown.

"There was no such problem when YSR was there. He took along the whole state together," Vijayamma said.

She slammed the Congress for using the situation for its own ends.

"Everything they have done, they have done to their political advantage. When (P.) Chidambaram announced that the centre was initiating a process for formation of Telangana, did he announce it without consulting his own government (central and state government)? We have made it very clear - clean this mess you have created in the state," she said.

In December 2009, then home minister Chidambaram had made a dramatic near- midnight announcement of initiating the process of forming Telangana following a fast-unto-death by Telangana Rashtra Samiti chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao demanding bifurcation of the state.

Thereafter, a commission under Justice B.N. Srikrishna was formed in March 2010 to give suggestions on a separate state. Its report came on Dec 30, 2010. However, not much progress was made in the process of forming a separate state until Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Dec 28, 2012, announced that a decision on Telangana will be taken in a month. However, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said earlier this week the announcement may take longer.

The state has seen several bandhs, violent protests, spearheaded by students, and suicides over the demand for a separate state.

An emotional Vijayamma added: "Had YSR been alive, such a situation would not have arisen".

She also slammed the Congress and its central leadership for "forging a case" against Jaganmohan Reddy, alleging it was done as the Congress was "afraid of his popularity".

"My husband worked for the public for more than 30 years. He lost his life while serving the people. He was instrumental in bringing the Congress to power in Andhra Pradesh and the centre and this is the reward his son gets," Vijayamma said.

The YSR Congress, in its first electoral foray in 2011, won the by-poll to the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat (Jaganmohan Reddy's constituency). He had quit the seat after leaving the Congress.

In the assembly by-elections held in 2012, it won 15 of 18 seats it contested - and also the Nellore Lok Sabha seat.

Andhra Pradesh is India's fourth largest state by area (275,000 square km.) and fifth largest by population (84.65 million). The Telangana region is spread over 114,000 sq km with a population of 35.28 million - 41.6 percent of the state's population. The Telangana region is a comparatively less developed area of the state.

Anjalo Ojha can be contacted at anjali.o@ians.in

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