Economic Times interview of YS Vijayamma causes ripples

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The Economic (& Political) Times frontpaged an interview with YS Vijayalakshmi Reddy, wife of the late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, marking its enhanced political coverage beginning Monday. It created the desired result. ET became the talking point in Andhra Pradesh on Monday.

A worried Telugu Desam Party could not conceal its jittery response. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi, which is toying with the idea of sailing with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), too responded in a not-so-surprising a manner. From the Congress side, a feeble response from a leader like V Hanumantha Rao, who cannot face — leave alone winning — a popular election, however, passes off as the hiss of a snake that fell in a moat around a fortress.

Some media houses, which have been worried about their business interests in the event of YS Jaganmohan Reddy-led political formation is elected, kicked off a smear campaign saying that Jagan was afraid and hence the attempt for a rapprochement with the Congress for two reasons — to get his release from the prison and also to counter the BJP which has been making a concert against ‘Brother’ Anil Kumar, husband of Sharmila, daughter of YS Rajasekhara Reddy.

The Telugu Desam Party has decried the content of her interview, which suggested that the YSR Congress might extend support to the United Progressive Alliance or a Third Front, as it could not support the “communal BJP”-led National Democratic Alliance. The TDP scooped out a few questions and answers selectively to tailor its criticism against the fledgling party, which is already enmeshed in serious charges of corruption and whose leader, incarcerated for the last 10 months.

As a matter of fact, YS Vijayalakshmi laced her lucid interview with some more additions that the party might seek some key portfolios at the Centre after the 2014 elections. She also very emphatically mentioned that Jagan’s victimization, as they perceive it to be, wasn’t without the knowledge of Rahul Gandhi. She also clarified that Jagan did not accede to her advise to heed to the suggestion of Sonia Gandhi and went ahead being with people.

TDP MLA Payyavula Keshav picked up a campaign that the YSR Congress was giving interviews, which are “palatable” to the Congress bosses in Delhi, only to English media to get their message across clearly to their target audience; and that they were talking on a different tone on the field during Sharmila’s padayatra and public meetings.

Politically speaking, the TDP can spurn the YSRC using choicest of abuses and people watching the political theatre would enjoy it to the hilt. But, he can’s forget the fact that the news of padayatra of Naidu and Sharmila are covered by English media too and that the English  TVs, newspapers and websites publish/air/transmit the content as it is. And, there was no bar on Delhi from accessing the content of what the party is speaking at the field level. Aside from t his, whatever is communicated to Telugu media is promptly translated by the intelligence sleuths, if not anybody else, and is sent to the powers that be for their consumption.

It is Keshav’s right to criticise the YSR Congress and also opine that it might join hands with the Congress and that it was cheating the people by ‘pretending’ to be opposed to the Congress.  Even the crass style of political assault cannot be faulted, for such is the level of animosity between the YSR Congress and the TDP. It is only ironical that some media houses are willing to play their part in this political gamble.

More than anybody, it is the TDP which is trying to create a ruckus over the interview. No less a person than the party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu himself reacted to the interview. He tried to justify his comment that YSR Congress was a chip off the Congress block and that Vijayamma’s interview amply proved that her party left the door wide open for a reunion with the Congress after the 2014 elections.
He said that her intention became clear and that his assertion that the YSRC was a just tributary to the Congress and it would merge with it was unwittingly endorsed by the YSR Congress party’s honorary president. He reiterated the jocular simile of mother and child relationship between the Congress and the YSR Congress.

Naidu’s son Lokesh too tweeted that Sharmila talked about no-trust move, Vijayalakshmi talked about support and there’s no wonder if tomorrow Jagan merges his party with the Congress.

The TDP could have achieved a greater intonation in the frequencies of responses, had Keshav did not make an attempt to differentiate between the English and Telugu media. In a nutshell, Keshav meant that whatever Telugu media publishes or airs doesn’t reach the people in the pwer corridors.

Even the TRS leader K T Rama Rao dubbed the interview as an expose of the thought process of the YSR Congress. He said that the party was cheating the people by talking against the Congress, but the original intent was unveiled in the interview, he said. What is noteworthy is that the TRS did not deny the reports that suggested that KCR might share the dais with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi thereby aligning the sub-regional party with the BJP.

YSRC’s spokesperson Ambati Ramababu tried his best to put up defence on behalf of his party. He asserted that what Vijayalakshmi said was the stated position of his party. However, he could not provide a convincing answer to the question as to why does his party demand a no-confidence motion against the Congress-led State Government and why does it want to support a Congress-led UPA Government. This dichotomy lays bare the shallowness of the YSRC in its stand.

Interestingly, YS Jagan, before being imprisoned, in an interview given to Rajdeep Sardesai of CNN-IBN said that his party would not support NDA at any cost and wouldn’t mind throwing its weight behind the Congress-led UPA in the event of the his party’s support becoming essential for the latter to form the Government.

Against this background, the ET’s interview indeed stole the political show in the State.