Tightening her grip over the succession squabble in Andhra Pradesh after the sudden death of chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has summoned K V P Ramachandra Rao, the late chief minister's biggest acolyte, for a meeting on Tuesday at her residence in the national capital.
KVP, perceived as the main force behind the controversial signature campaign of MLAs in favour of YSR's son Jaganmohan, is expected to get a strong message. Many in the party are convinced that he "crossed all limits" in orchestrating the signature campaign to make Jaganmohan the next chief minister.
According to sources, Gandhi is annoyed the way KVP had sent the letter of support for Jaganmohan directly to Andhra Pradesh Governor N D Tiwari.
"It is a major offence. If he had collected the signatures and sent the letter to the party president, we could have understood that. But sending the letter directly to the governor, bypassing Sonia Gandhi, almost amounts to a revolt," a senior Congress leader said today.
A peeved Gandhi is also likely to constitute a team of observers comprising senior central leaders to hold backtrack parleys with the state unit before the Congress Legislative Party meeting is officially called. This too, is perceived in the party circle as a move to take the wind out of Jaganmohan's sail, as many central leaders feel he is "too young" and a "political novice" to handle a "complex state like Andhra Pradesh".
"Had he been senior by a few more years, it would have been an easy ride for Jaganmohan. But the main concern for the party is now to maintain stability. It will not be easy for Jaganmohan to run a state like Andhra Pradesh," a party leader said on the condition of anonymity.
But the sources also insisted that if at all someone else was appointed as the CM, he should be able to enjoy the support of Jaganmohan. The team of observers may consist of leaders like Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily (in charge of Andhra Pradesh) and All India Congress Committee general secretary Digvijay Singh.
Meanwhile, the Congress again asked functionaries of the YSR camp to respect the "mourning period" and not indulge in a clamour for the next CM.
"We shall go into the nitty-gritty of this issue only after the mourning period is over. We are appealing to all sections of the party to respect this mourning period," party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said today.
Sensing the strong mood of the high command, the pro-YSR Congress MPs today called off their visit to Delhi to support Jaganmohan Reddy as the chief minister. After an informal meeting of this group consisting of fifteen MPs in Hyderabad, Convenor of the AP Congress MPs Forum Ponnam Prabhakar said, "In tune with the AICC's direction, we decided not to step up our demand for making Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy the Chief Minister."In this complex situation, Gandhi may allow Rosaiah to continue as the CM for a few more weeks and wait till the euphoria over Jaganmohan subsides. "But the party is likely to settle this succession issue before the Maharashtra polls," said a source.