Photographs: SnapsIndia Vicky Nanjappa/Mohammad Siddique/Agencies
Brushing aside reservations of the party high command, Congress MP Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday resumed his controversial 'Odarpu yatra' in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh.
The roads and streets in Ichapuram town of Srikakulam, where Jagan started his yatra on the occasion of his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy's birth anniversary, turned in to a sea of humanity as boisterous crowds gathered outside the railway station to receive the young leader.
They also lined up the entire route of Jagan's procession.
Completely ignoring the directions of party high command, Jagan's condolence tour was turned in to a colourful road show with his supporters carrying Jagan's photographs. His cutouts were also put up at many places.
Security personnel had a very difficult time
Jagan, hanging out from his vehicle's open door waved his hands at the people as crowd, specially of youth surged towards him to touch him and garland him. Security personnel had a very difficult time to control the crowds and make the vehicles move.
Jagan, who kickstarted his yatra by paying tributes to his late father Dr Rajasekhara Reddy, is confident that the Congress will ultimately support him.
He realizes the importance of being in the party and under no circumstance will even think of forming another party unless the high command acts in a haphazard manner, a close aide touring with Jagan told rediff.com.
'I do not feel lonely'
The young leader unveiled a statue of late Rajasekhara Reddy on the occasion of his father YSR's birth anniversary. He later paid tributes to his father at the 'Vijaya Vatika', which was built to mark the culmination of the state-wide 'padayatra' undertaken by Rajasekhara Reddy ahead of 2004 assembly elections.
Speaking on the occasion, Jagan said he does not feel lonely, as his father had given him a huge family that comprised the whole of Andhra Pradesh.
Later, he left for Loddaputti village to console the family of Pyla Chandramma who died following the death of death of his father last year.
A message for the supporters
Jagan's camp says that 80 per cent of the state Congress is with them and it is just a matter of time before they come out in the open and speak in his favour.
They are just playing a wait and watch game and will come out in the open once the high command finally realizes that Jagan is the leader in Andhra Pradesh, the aide said.
Meanwhile, the Sakshi news channel run by Jagan showed a message by him to YSR's fans on the occasion.
"I have been asked to give a message on the occasion of my father's birth anniversary by his well-wishers from abroad. I am happy you are celebrating my father's birthday. Mahatma Gandhi said 'my life is a message to the nation to see'."
"Our leader Rajasekhara Reddy also belonged to the same league. His life is a message to the state of Andhra Pradesh. The way he lived and his affectionate way of wishing people is a message. I learnt a lot from him. One who spoke to him just once can learn a lot from him. I thank each one of you with folded hands for your love and affection," he said in the message.
'Everyone associates Jagan with his father'
A state Congress MLA says that most of Jagan's supporters have worked behind the scene to ensure that the yatra turns out to be a success.
Although it is being said that the yatra is non-political, in the long run it benefits the Congress, he says, adding that the crowds have come out in large numbers and each one associates Jagan with his father who they all know was a Congress leader.
The Jagan camp says that the stand of the state Congress camp will be clear in a couple of days. Jagan enjoys the support of 80 per cent of the Congress leaders over his main opponent and state chief minister, K Rosaiah.
Congress will wait till bypolls end
Jagan's supporters say that Rosaiah will eventually give in but will try and hold on to power for however long he can.
However, Congress leaders point out that everything will remain quiet and none of their leaders will speak about it in the open until the Telangana by-polls are over.
Currently, the Telangana sentiment is running high. But at the same time, the Congress is aware of the support Jagan's father enjoyed in certain parts of the region.
If Jagan is able to sustain it, then his place as a top leader in the Congress will cemented, they point out.