By assuming the top post, he has fulfilled his decade-old ambition of helming the state after walking out of the Congress party years ago following the death of his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in a chopper crash in 2009.
Ambitious and determined. Cool and confident. These were the traits that catapulted Yeduguri Sandinti Jaganmohan Reddy to the Chief Minister’s chair and stood him in good stead in his political career that witnessed several twists and turns. By assuming the top post, he has fulfilled his decade-old ambition of helming the state after walking out of the Congress party years ago following the death of his father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in a chopper crash in 2009.
Jaganmohan Reddy, however, has miles to go since he has to deliver on his ambitious “Navaratnalu” (nine promises that centred on welfare schemes) assurances and face the cases filed by CBI over alleged corruption charges.
From a small-time businessman to a formidable political leader, Jaganmohan Reddy better known as Jagan had a bumpy ride which he overcame with aplomb in the last two decades of his career. While the first ten years of his career was spent in building a business which he did in a hassle-free manner, the second decade was a tumultuous one as Reddy set on the political path. Like his late father, who rode to power in 2004 after a 1600-km padayatra (foot march), Reddy too took the same route and did a walkathon across 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh covering 3,648 km in 15 months.
It was virtually a ten-year wait that came to a happy end for Reddy. The only son of late Chief Minister of (undivided) Andhra Pradesh Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, Jaganmohan Reddy began his business career in 1999-2000 by establishing a tiny power company Sandur in neighbouring Karnataka and expanding it to the north-eastern states. His business graph began showing a meteoric rise amidst his father becoming the state Chief Minister in 2004 and Reddy started venturing into many other businesses including cement plants, infrastructure and media.
Reddy’s political ambitions first surfaced in late 2004 when he aspired to become an MP from his home turf Kadapa but was denied by the Congress high command. He had to wait till 2009 to fulfil his dream and make a formal political debut by winning the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat as the Congress nominee. His father’s tragic death literally changed everything for Reddy. He looked forward to succeeding his late father to the Chief Minister’s post but the Congress high command was unrelenting despite several legislators rallying behind him.
Disillusioned, Reddy gradually began defying the Congress bosses and, by early 2010, was meticulously charting his own course. He took the ‘Odarpu Yatra’ route to build his political career independently, much to the discomfiture of the Congress.
Reddy’s emergence as a “leader” began with the Odarpu Yatra as he went round villages and districts to console families that lost their kin in the “aftermath” of YSR’s sudden death. In no time, his popularity graph shot upwards steadily while that of the ruling Congress’ dipped gradually. He succeeded in striking a positive chord with the common people largely on the goodwill earned by his late father through a slew of “welfare” programmes. As the Congress objected to his yatra and rejected “permission,” Reddy decided to snap his association with the grand old party.
The flashpoint came in November 2010 when the Congress opted for N Kiran Kumar Reddy as the Chief Minister of AP in place of the ageing K Rosaiah in an ostensible bid to effectively counter Jagan.
On November 29, 2010, the YSRC leader called it quits and walked out of the Congress, which his father loyally served for three decades, and also resigned from his Lok Sabha membership. In March 2011, Reddy announced floating of his own Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress YSR Congress throwing a challenge primarily at Congress and also Telugu Desam Party. He won the by-election to Kadapa Lok Sabha seat with a record margin of over five lakh votes in May 2011 while his mother Y S Vijayamma won the Pulivendula Assembly seat in an emphatic fashion.
There was no looking back thereafter as the fledgling YSRC won successive by-elections in the then undivided state and emerged as the favourite to capture power. But the bifurcation of AP put paid to Jagan’s ambitions as the voters preferred an experienced Chandrababu Naidu over the upcoming politician to rule the truncated state.
Reddy was charged by the CBI in several cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Money Laundering Act and also IPC in an alleged quid pro quo deals that were struck during his fathers tenure as Chief Minister. He was arrested on May 27, 2012 and had to spend 16-odd months in jail as an “un-convicted criminal prisoner” in the spate of corruption cases. He is still attending trial in these cases in the special CBI court in Hyderabad.