Altering dramatically the situation prevailing so far the Chief Minister K Rosaiah has thrown an open challenge to the dissidents within his cabinet to "resign and go" if they don't have patience to wait for the decision of the Congress high command on the issue of leadership.
"They are free to go. No body will stop them. They can resign and do what they want," Rosaiah said in an uncharacteristic outburst after suffering silently for nearly four weeks since he took over as the Chief Minister following the death of YSR in a helicopter crash on September 2.
He brushed aside the contentions of his detractors, specially the pro-Jagan ministers, that he was merely a caretaker CM.
"As far as I know the Indian constitution does not have any provision for any temporary, caretaker or interim chief minister. A person who takes the oath as the chief minister is the chief minister and a person who takes oath as the minister is the minister," he said.
"If they think that a CM could be caretaker then what about the ministers under him. Will they be caretaker or permanent?" he asked turning the table on the dissident ministers.
Rosaiah also indicated that he might go in for an expansion or reshuffle of his cabinet after going to Delhi for consultations with the high command. "I will go by their advice," he said, clearly putting the detractors on notice.
His outbursts was aimed at the ministers who have been trying to humiliate him from Day-1 by not cooperating with him and repeatedly suggesting that he should be replaced by Jaganmohan Reddy immediately.
Rosaiah said that he will continue to work as the CM till the high command wants him to.
Rosaiah's terse warning that the dissident ministers were free to leave has left the Jagan followers stunned. Only one minister Konda Surekha from Warangal, a staunch YSR loyalist said that she will quit the cabinet if it becomes clear that Jagan will not be made the CM.
"The Congress party in Andhra Pradesh will become weak," he said.
Some other ministers including Kanna Lakshminarayana were closeted with KVP Ramachandra Rao, the confidante of late YSR and godfather of Jagan.
Meanwhile, there were many other indications suggesting that Rosaiah will remain in the chair for a long time to come.
The All India Congress Committee general secretary Veerappa Moily in charge of Andhra Pradesh affairs said in Bengaluru that Rosaiah was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and the high command will not take any decision till the elections in Maharashtra were over.
Moily said he spoke to Jaganmohan Reddy, KVP Ramachandra Rao, Rosaiah and the state Congress president D Srinivas on Monday and made it clear to him. Both Jagan and Moily were in Bengaluru where the two met. Moily spoke to others over phone.
Rosaiah has also started getting open support from many other senior leaders including Congress Working Committee member G Venkat Swamy, V Hanumantha Rao, K Kesav Rao and P Govardhan Reddy.
Hanumantha Rao has created ripples by saying that Rosaiah will remain the Chief Minister till 2014. He also reminded Jagan supporters that no body, even YSR, was bigger than Sonia Gandhi. "Whoever Sonia Gandhi blesses becomes the leader," he said adding even YSR had become the leader only with the support of Sonia Gandhi.
"Every body has won the election with Sonia Gandhi's photograph," he said.
Though Jagan camp has been claiming the support of a vast majority of 156- member Congress legislature party, the tide seems to be now turning against him as the violent protest by his supporters have caused immense damage to his standing in the eyes of party high command.
His supporters attacked the Congress office in Anantapur, burnt two buses in Rajahmundry and tore and burnt a poster of Sonia Gandhi in Khammam.
They have also burnt the effigies of Congress Member of Parliament from Amalapuram Harsha Kumar and former MP from Khammam Renuka Chowdhary for speaking against Jagan.
Some even threatened to cut the tongue of Harsha Kumar for opposing Jagan's name as the Chief Minister.
Specially the Khammam incident of tearing and burning of Sonia Gandhi's photograph has marred Jagan's image.