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Andhra CM Jagan Following in His Father’s Footsteps? Yes and No

Jagan Reddy is very much like his father, ex-CM YSR. But here’s what he could learn better from his father.

Updated
Opinion
4 min read
Andhra CM Jagan Following in His Father’s Footsteps? Yes and No
i

‘Like father, like son’ holds true, but not entirely in the case of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy.

There are strong similarities between his persona and that of his father, the late YSR Reddy (chief minister from 2004-2009).

He shows the same desire for an iron grip and authoritarian style of functioning that his father had.

In fact, YSR Reddy was a rare regional chieftain in the Congress party who could control all factions and deal with the Congress high command from a position of authority and power. He put down any challenge with an iron fist and kept a complete grip over the party, building himself as a personality that towered over the rest. This is what Jagan used as the foundation to build his own party and split from the Congress.

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Snapshot
  • Jagan Mohan Reddy shows the same desire for an iron grip and authoritarian style of functioning that his father had.
  • As chief minister, Jagan, unlike his father, has no high command to deal with and is the ‘numero uno’ in his party.
  • In terms of their politics, Jagan, like YSR Reddy, is keen to nurture the pro-poor, hero of the masses image.
  • A key difference between father and son, is the seeming lack of moderation or debate in some of Jagan’s decisions.
  • At 54, YSR Reddy was a young chief minister in his time and Jagan Reddy is even younger at 47.

Jagan, Like YSR, Is Keen to Nurture a ‘Pro-Poor’ Image

As chief minister, Jagan, unlike his father, has no high command to deal with and is the ‘numero uno’ in his party. He has held his party together despite a narrow defeat in 2014, and demands unquestioned loyalty from the rest of the leaders.

Like in any personality-based regional party there is little space for dissent, and this is a trait Jagan’s taken from his father. He has gone after his rivals as ruthlessly as his father went after his, and that is a defining feudal trait that runs in both.

In terms of their politics, Jagan, like YSR Reddy, is keen to nurture the pro-poor, hero of the masses image. Even Jagan’s ‘padyatra’ as an election campaign in 2019, was inspired by the ‘padyatra’ his father took to capture power in 2004.

Like father, the son projected himself as the champion of the poor, and their opponent N Chandrabu Naidu’s TDP as ‘working for the rich businesses’.

This explains their focus as chief ministers on populist schemes and decisions to project the image of a welfare state.

One of the flagship schemes that YSR Reddy projected was ‘Aarogyasri’ or health insurance scheme, and he was keen to ensure — at every stage — not to be seen as ‘compromising’ on the economically weaker sections to promote economic growth.

Similarly, most of Jagan Reddy’s announcements — from the promise of prohibition to holding ‘praja darbars’ — reveal a similar strategy.

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Jagan More ‘Closed’ Than YSR, His Decisions Too Lack Moderation

However, Jagan seems to be more closed as a personality as compared to his father. The ease with which his father dealt with people is something the son does not exhibit. For instance, Jagan has not had a single press conference since he became chief minister, and prefers to work through his trusted lieutenants. He allegedly does not even meet many of his MLAs directly. This is possibly because the political circumstances for YSR Reddy – as a regional leader in a national party – demanded an image of engagement with other leaders.

But, there is a certain difference in the core personality itself, and the son seems more closed than the father.

The other key difference – again possibly because of political circumstances – is the seeming lack of moderation or debate in some of the decisions. In his first eight months, Jagan Reddy has announced some explosive decisions, and virtually reversed the course of action initiated by his predecessor.

For instance, the move towards Prohibition was spoken about even during his father’s time in office, but Jagan has no opposition to the move, and has moved forward swiftly on such a controversial issue. This is both because of there being no power in his party to question him, and the fact that the YSRCP has a near complete majority in the state. These are luxuries to a politician that the father did not have.

But, the flip side of it is a debate on how it will be implemented at the grassroots level. It is a move that has a certain social benefit for the economically weaker sections but it can also be a disaster if not implemented, and implementation is extremely difficult.

What is the Practicality of Jagan’s Decisions?

With most of Jagan Reddy’s decisions there are doubts over how it will be implemented. He has decided to undo the plans for Amaravathi as one grand capital and is balancing between Visakhapatnam in north coastal Andhra, Kurnool in Rayalseema, and Amaravathi in south coastal Andhra.

While this may be to balance the aspirations of three regions of the state, it is not clear how it will work out at a practical level.

In fact, many of his decisions, like having five deputy CMs from five major social sections, are aimed at image projection and not for administrative compulsions.

The father found moderation in his political circumstances, and the son is yet to see the benefits of a counter-balancing force or dissent, and allow the space for it.

At 54, YSR Reddy was a young chief minister in his time and Jagan Reddy is even younger at 47. He is similar yet different from his father, but has emerged a leader as powerful as the father in just a decade.

(The writer is an independent journalist. He can be reached @TMVRaghav . This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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