(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 10, 2012
Bye-Elections Raise Fears
of Political Uncertainty
A FLURRY of developments over the last week in the state have created a sense of political uncertainty for the coming period, particularly after the results of the bye-elections to 18 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency that will be held on June 12, 2012 are out. Whether the Congress government would be able to survive the expected setbacks in these bye-polls, given the proclivity of many of its MLAs to jump on to the bandwagon of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress, is being speculated. There is also talk of impending President’s rule in the state if the situation gets out of hand for the Congress.
president of YSR Congress party, Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, was
arrested on May 27 by the CBI on charges of cheating, criminal
conspiracy, criminal breach of trust and falsification of
accounts in the disproportionate assets case being
investigated by the agency. The arrest came after three days
of intensive questioning of Jagan, who was summoned to
The YSR Congress party is trying to use Jagan’s arrest to their advantage by making Jagan’s mother and honorary president of party, Y S Vijayamma and sister Sharmila the main campaigners who are working up the sympathy factor. Addressing huge enthusiastic crowds flocking to their election meetings, they are charging Congress president Sonia Gandhi of indulging in vendetta politics. Already four Congress MLAs and one Lok Sabha member belonging to Congress have openly met Vijayamma and expressed their solidarity. Two of the MLAs have resigned from Congress and their assembly membership also. One former TDP Rajya Sabha member, M V Mysoora Reddy, has also joined Jagan’s party. More disgruntled leaders in both parties are expected to shift sides depending on the outcome of bye-elections.
These bye-elections were
necessitated because 17 Congress MLAs were disqualified by the
assembly speaker after they voted against the Congress
government in the no-confidence motion moved by the TDP last
year. Another MLA from Parakal constituency and Nellore Lok
Sabha member also resigned from their respective seats and
Congress party. Of these 18 assembly seats, 17 are in
Coastal-Rayalaseema region while one falls in Telangana
region. The fight is mainly three-cornered, between Congress,
TDP and YSR Congress party which are in the fray in all these
CPI(M) is contesting 5 assembly seats and Nellore Lok Sabha
constituency with the express aim of highlighting people’s
issues and exposing the bankruptcy of the main bourgeois
parties. The assembly segments are: Payakaravupeta (SC) in
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member B V Raghavulu in his campaign speeches has said that voting for these bourgeois parties would amount to giving them licence to loot the state. It is only the CPI(M) that espouses the cause of the downtrodden. He said Jagan, Chandrababu and Kiran had their share in corruption. The CPI(M) is supporting MCPI in Parakala assembly seat and Lok Satta in four other seats reciprocally.
The late Y S Rajashekar Reddy was showcased by the Congress as one of its best performing chief ministers and had developed a lot of clout with the high command after successive good performance in 2004 and 2009 general elections. His ‘skills’ were much in evidence during the no-confidence motion against UPA government on India-US nuclear deal issue whereby he blatantly got two TDP Lok Sabha members to defect to Congress and vote against the motion. But the kind of crony capitalism and loot he was up to in order to benefit his son Jagan is now being exposed by the CBI in the course of its investigation. CBI was entrusted this task on the orders of Andhra Pradesh high court in 2010 following a letter written by the then minister in Congress government Dr Shankar Rao. The court treated the letter as Public Interest Litigation and ordered the CBI inquiry to probe Jagan’s disproportionate assets.
In 2004, when his father became the chief minister of the state, Jagan’s income tax returns showed he had assets worth Rs 36 lakh. In 2010-11, those stood at Rs 362 crore – a 1000 fold increase. The modus operandi of this aggrandisement has been a quid pro quo arrangement – favoured industrialists were granted thousands of acres under SEZ, cement plants, power projects etc by YSR government and in return they pumped in hundreds of crores of bribe money into Jagan’s companies as ‘investment’. Some of it was even through the infamous Mauritius route. Take for instance the Vodarevu and Nizampatnam Port and Port-related Industrial Corridor (VANPIC) project. The YSR government signed an agreement with the government of Ras al Khaimah for this project. But within few months RAK brought in Nimmagadda Prasad, a favoured industrialist of the ruling regime, as its Indian partner and transferred majority stake to his company. While the initial idea was to allot 2000 acres of land for the project, Prasad’s company was given 13,000 acres of land that was forcibly acquired by the government from poor farmers in Guntur and Prakasam districts. Ruling party henchmen under the leadership of local MLAs and MPs stepped in to acquire another 10,000 acres unofficially for VANPIC company. Entire villages in the area were gobbled up, throwing tens of thousands of peasants out of their lands. Such was the ‘primitive accumulation’. Now, there is clamour from those whose lands have been acquired for scrapping of the project. The CPI(M) has also lent its support to the demand.
Nimagadda Prasad expressed his gratitude by ‘investing’ around Rs 600 crore in Jagan’s companies. He is presently in jail after CBI arrested him as part of its investigation into this case. A minister in the present Congress government, M Venkataramana, was also arrested in this case leading to his resignation from the cabinet. He is also in jail facing charges for signing the Govt Order (G O) granting thousands of acres for this project as the then minister for investments and infrastructure. He is now taking the defence that he was ordered to sign by the then chief minister and he had no other option. Similarly, another four ministers, including home minister Sabita Indira Reddy, are facing charges for issuing such G Os. In fact the Supreme Court has asked the CBI to proceed against these ministers and CBI has already begun questioning them one by one. Already senior IAS officers in their ministries when the G Os were issued are in jail on the same charges. The CPI(M) and other opposition parties have demanded sacking of these ministers till the investigation is completed.
USE OF MONEY
The three main bourgeois-landlord parties have taken these bye-elections so prestigiously that the state is witnessing unprecedented use of money-liquor-gold and what not to woo voters. Andhra Pradesh is already known widely for the vast sums of money doled out by bourgeois parties during the elections. In the 2009 general election, EC officials seized Rs 38 crore in cash while being transported to constituencies. This time for just 18 seats, already Rs 41 crore has been seized along with 1.75 lakh litres of liquor meant for distribution among voters. With a week left for voting, all records are set to be broken so far as use of money in elections is concerned.
With gold prices zooming past, these parties think that distributing gold could fetch them better returns. So, instead of sarees, they are distributing gold ear rings, nose rings etc. The EC has so far seized 42 kg of gold being transported for these purposes. The CEO has told media that they are keeping tabs on gold jewellery manufacturers in Hyderabad to prevent such corrupt practices.
The bye-election in Parakala seat has become a five-cornered contest with both the TRS and BJP fighting along with the sitting Jagan camp MLA, Congress and TDP. Although the Telangana political Joint Action Committee tried to broker a deal between TRS and BJP to avoid mutual contest, it could not succeed. The BJP after its surprise win over TRS in Mahabubnagar is trying to use these elections to increase its strength in the region. But recently its hopes were dashed with the political JAC publicly declaring its support to TRS candidate citing its own surveys that showed that TRS is in number one position in the constituency.