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Politics

What KCR, Jagan Reddy's Candidates for Rajya Sabha Say About Their Politics

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s close aide and co-accused in the quid pro quo case Bandi Parthasaradhi Reddy's name was in the list of Rajya Sabha candidates announced by Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

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Vijayawada: Many were surprised when Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s close aide and co-accused in the quid pro quo case Bandi Parthasaradhi Reddy’s name was found in the list of three Rajya Sabha candidates announced by Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

Parthasaradhi Reddy – or PBS Reddy, as he is known – is the chairman and managing director of Hetero Drugs, a Hyderabad-based pharma company with operating revenues running into Rs 500 crore.

YSR Congress sitting Rajya Sabha member and YSRC parliamentary party leader Vijayasai Reddy – who is also an accused in the quid pro quo case and a financial advisor for Jagan Reddy – has also been nominated by Jagan for re-election to the Upper House from Andhra Pradesh.

Polling for 57 Rajya Sabha seats in 15 states has been scheduled for June 10. The election is being held to fill the seats falling vacant due to the retirement of members on different dates between June and August. The notification for the polls will be issued on May 24 and voting will be held on June 10.

The CBI charge-sheeted Jagan as a prime accused and several others, including Vijayasai Reddy and PBS Reddy, in connection with cases pertaining to the Indu-Andhra Pradesh Housing Board land scam and investments in Jagathi Publications owned by Jagan’s family.

The Andhra Pradesh chief minister has also nominated S. Niranjan Reddy, a leading lawyer from Hyderabad defending the accused in money laundering and quid pro quo cases.

The largesse demonstrated by Jagan for the accused in economic offence cases and KCR’s special preference for Jagan’s aide in the allotment of Rajya Sabha seats raised many eyebrows. It is alleged that several top-notch industrialists invested huge amounts in Jagathi Publications, which runs a daily and a TV channel, expecting favours from the then Congress government headed by Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, Jagan’s father.

Hetero Drugs, along with a director in PBS Reddy’s company Attari Venkata Narasa Reddy, were named in the CBI chargesheet for investing close to Rs 20 crore in Jagathi Publications.

The Andhra Pradesh government recently signed agreements with five pharmaceutical companies to develop 2,566 of 45,000 government schools in the state and improve facilities in these institutions. Among these companies is Hetero Drugs. There was an uproar against Parthasarathi Reddy some time ago because he was in the news for IT raids during which Rs 142 crore unaccounted for cash was seized. The department allegedly found Rs 550 crore hidden money.

T. Lakshminarayana, a political analyst, told The Wire that KCR’s gesture of granting a Rajya Sabha ticket to Jagan’s aide is clearly indicating how the two leaders are fulfilling their self-interests while throwing to the wind the need for resolving pending bifurcation issues and river-water sharing.

KCR’s largesse for top industrialists

Amidst the talk of early polls, KCR has doled out all three Rajya Sabha seat nominations to business tycoons. When Parthasaradhi Reddy owns a leading pharma company, the other two nominees are Vaddiraju Ravi Chandra, chief promoter of the Gayatri Group of Companies, and Divikonda Damodara Rao, chairman and managing director of Telangana Publications, which runs Telugu and English dailies and a TV channel as mouthpieces of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government. These industrialists are said to be the main financiers of the ruling party.

The Jagan government in Andhra Pradesh, seemingly in return, has also demonstrated its special love for Telangana by choosing two of four candidates from the neighbouring state – R. Krishnaiah, an icon of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), and S. Niranjan Reddy. Curiously enough, two turncoats from the Telugu Desam Party – Krishnaiah, who was elected as an MLA from the LB Nagar assembly segment in Hyderabad on the TDP ticket and Beeda Mastan Rao – also found their way into the Jagan’s list of Rajya Sabha candidates. Both are picked from the OBCs, highlighting Jagan’s social engineering ahead of the next elections.

Election of candidates from the YSR Congress and TRS in the two states are imminent given their numerical strength in the assemblies. Jagan’s party in the Andhra assembly enjoys a brute majority of 151 out of 175 members while KCR’s TRS too has 103 members in the 119-member assembly.

In the run-up to the general elections in 2014, Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP has named Krishnaiah as the chief ministerial candidate for Telangana and fielded him in the state elections from LB Nagar. He won the election but failed to become the chief minister, as Naidu’s party came a cropper in that election and won just 15 assembly seats. In alliance with the Congress as part of the Mahagatbandhan in the next election in 2018, Krishnaiah was denied the party ticket from LB Nagar. Krishnaiah felt disgruntled and got close to the Naidu’s bête noir in Andhra, backing Jagan Reddy in the 2019 elections with an appeal to the OBCs to vote for the YSRC.

Jagan’s master plan

Drafting Krishnaiah for the Rajya Sabha ticket is a clear pointer to Jagan’s plans to firm up his caste coalitions involving the numerically strong OBCs, Muslim and Christian minorities and Scheduled Castes to repeat his success in the coming elections.

Alienation of a major part of OBCs had led to the TDP’s debacle in the previous election, as Naidu’s pitch for OBC status for Kapus proved a dampner for his party’s winning prospects, said Angirekula Varaprasad, an OBC leader from Guntur district. OBCs and Kapus are at loggerheads in Andhra. In a bid to thwart Jagan’s plans, Naidu is doing his best to garner Kapu votes by cajoling actor Pawan Kalyan into an alliance with his party to offset the possible losses caused by the drifting of OBCs. Pawan and Naidu vow to not split the opposition vote as had happened in the last election. The Naidu’s TDP and Pawan’s Jana Sena parties separately fought the election, to the detriment of Naidu. Kapus are a deciding factor in 35-40 assembly segments in the coastal Andhra region.

Kalkura, an political analyst from Kurnool, expressed doubts over the synergy of the Reddy-OBC communities in the Rayalaseema region. OBCs have been subjected to oppression by Reddys by virtue of their stronghold over politics and land, till the matinee idol N.T. Rama Rao floated the TDP and offered them a shelter.

Dalavai Srinivasulu, a senior journalist from Rayalaseema, said a battery of OBC leaders such as Devendar Goud in Telangana, K. Yerran Naidu in Uttarandhra and Yanamala Ramakrishnudu in central Andhra were groomed as potential leaders under the banner of the TDP during the NTR’s time. After Naidu took over the party reins from NTR, empowerment of OBCs failed to inch beyond the households of these leaders, leaving many sub-castes in OBCs unrepresented. Though nearly 140 sub-castes have been listed under OBCs, only a handful of communities have been enjoying power, causing heartburn among many, said Srinivasulu.