Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Power & Politics / Mail Today, November 03, 2009

EVERY year, millions of poor Indians migrate from the villages to the big cities in search of a better future but we are now witnessing a strange reverse migration. It’s not the poor and the underprivileged, disillusioned by life in the big bad city returning to their roots. It is the political class that is suddenly realising that home is where your heart — and fortunes — lies. There was a time when politicians chorused “ Dilli Chalo”; now they sing “ Vapas Chalo”. Having lost out on his bid to succeed his father the late YS Rajashekhara Reddy as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, you would expect YS Jaganmohan Reddy, the 36 year old first time MP, to take his job as the elected representative of the people of Cuddapah constituency seriously. Not quite. Jagan is giving serious thought to returning to state politics.

He now wants nomination from the Pulivendula assembly seat his father represented either for himself or his mother Vijayalakshmi. The issue is likely to be discussed later this week when the two meet Sonia Gandhi. Two weeks ago, Jagan had met Sonia, after which he asked his belligerent followers who would settle for nothing less than his installation as chief minister, to lie low. Jagan has more than once publicly stated that his actions will never be without the blessings of Soniaji.

With the majority of the Congress MLAs and ministers still keeping up the clamour for his elevation, Jagan flew off last week to Bangalore. While the ostensible reason was that he wanted to spend time with his children who study in a private school there, the real reason was that he wanted a break from Andhra politics — to ponder over his future.

Jagan is a quick learner He is now convinced that his political future lies not in New Delhi but in Hyderabad. At the moment, with Andhraites still grieving YSR’s death, Jagan has got the benefit of a sympathy wave. But time is a great healer and a year down the line, memories of his father would have begun to fade and the overwhelming support that he currently has will begin to wane. At their last meeting, Sonia reportedly told him to wait for his chance. Jagan is keeping a low profile but many ministers who were in his father's cabinet are keeping up the pressure by threatening to resign every now and then. K Rosiah, the incumbent CM who succeeded YSR is over 70 and may not want to carry on for another term. People close to Jagan have reportedly told him that his continued stay in Delhi as an MP would leave the space open for alternative power centres to emerge in the Congress back home.

Jagan is not the only GenNext Jagan Reddy politician who feels that the future lies at home. Many young leaders across the political divide are beginning to realise that New Delhi’s power structure will not allow them to reach anywhere near the top of the political ladder.

The government has tried to give him a false sense of importance by allotting him a huge bungalow in Lutyens Delhi that’s normally reserved for senior ministers, but Jagan and others like him know they have no place in the establishment and no role to play. An established succession order is already in place. Rahul Gandhi has his friends, comprising technocrats and dynastic successors like him. They are all talented, but having no stakes in the states, their ambitions are limited to becoming a full- fledged Union minister one fine day. The recent assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana saw the largest collection of political sons and daughters becoming MLAs.

From President Pratibha Patil to Union ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushil Shinde, they have all made their children MLAs. Though part of Rahul’s A- team, Deepinder Hooda would rather take over from his father as Haryana chief minister rather than take up an assignment at the Centre. After nearly ten years as union minister, Kumari Shelja showed her heart was still in state politics by making a strong bid for chief ministership. Lalu has had enough of Delhi and now rarely steps out of Bihar. Mulayam keeps his options open and so has farmed his family across Parliament and the UP assembly. MK Azhagiri wants to go back to Chennai not because he doesn’t know Hindi or English as it is made out to be, but because he realises his limitations. For the sons and daughters of regional satraps, Delhi offers little chance for growth. Sooner or later, they realise that the political pinnacle is the exclusive preserve of a Closed User Group.

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