YSRC chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy appears to have decided to seize the initiative from the Telugu Desam Party in the fight for justice to the State. With Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu having gained a head-start in appearing to be fighting for a fair deal for the state in the national budget, Jaganmohan Reddy too seems to have got a second wind. He now wants to take the bull by its horns and go up in the see-saw battle of competitive politics.

On Wednesday night, he went into a huddle with his party leaders and decided that the battle cry for the YSRC would be Special Category Status (SCS) which remained as elusive as quicksilver ever since it was promised by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in February 2014 but was not kept by the successive NDA government.

As Naidu could not get either the SCS nor the special package except an assurance, the YSRC seems to have thought that there could be no other potent weapon as powerful as SCS to use against Naidu to discredit him in the eyes of the people.

Though TDP MPs have tried to shake up the Center by stalling proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament, nothing tangible had emerged except that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had made vague assurances which meant nothing. The MPs insisted on reassuring action in a time-bound manner for all the promises that had already been made and guaranteed by the AP State Re-organisation Act.

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Though there were leaks galore for the media that the Centre had buckled under the TDP pressure and was getting its act together in implementing the promises the list of which goes ad infinitum. There were late night crumbs of “information” thrown at the media that the Centre had decided to shower manna on the state including the knotty railway zone.

After the two Houses of Parliament were adjured for a recess, an uneasy calm prevailed in the nation’s capital. There were no official announcements by either Finance Minister or Railway Minister on what and when they intend to do for the people which meant that the deathly silence would continue for some more time.

When the TDP MPs finally arrived, a tumultuous welcome awaited them in Vijayawada, even though no categorical assurance was given on any of the 19 promises or special package. The Chief Minister patted them on their back for exposing the BJP which is what the TDP wanted anyway, regardless of the fact that the valiant fight had yielded very little benefit to the people. He even likened their agitation to freedom struggle. “Fighting for freedom of the country was past history. MPs fighting for AP’s interests is present history,” Naidu had said, in appreciation of MPs’ laboured agitation in Parliament.

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The YSRC which has been watching the scene that kept unfolding in the nation’s capital quickly understood the designs of the political pastmaster that Chandrababu Naidu is. It has become clear to Jaganmohan Reddy that Naidu with his BJP-bashing is trying to use people as a shoulder to cry on for the promises remaining will-o’-the-wisp.

Reddy, keen on turning the tables against Naidu, has asked his MPs at a high-level meeting in a village in Nellore district after he completed his day’s padayatra, to take on the struggle where the TDP MPs had left but the target should be Naidu and how he had compromised on special category status though the people had elected him to ensure that the state gets the status.

Jaganmohan Reddy knows fully well that special category status has more traction among the people and it would be much more in the wake of the Centre not showing any interest even to implement the promises made in the special package that had been announced on an a night by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in September 2016. The night, Andhras recall., resembled the night of December 9, 2009 when the then Home Minister P Chidambaram landed a bombshell on Andhras that process was being initiated for creation of Telangana state.

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The Centre, denying the special category status and the special package by showing technical reasons, appears to have provided the necessary ammunition to Jaganmohan Reddy to hit out at Naidu. Though Jaganmohan Reddy has been repeatedly saying that if the SCS had not been bestowed on Andhra, it was because Naidu was afraid of ruffling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s feathers, he now wants his MPs to use this line of attack on Naidu in Parliament.

He called a massive dharna at Jantar Mantar at Delhi on March 5, the day when Parliament will reassemble after the recess, to wash the dirty linen against Naidu. In a prelude to the dharna, he has called protests at collectors’ offices in the state on March 1.

The TDP has a massive score at the end of its innings. The batsmen are resting now, savouring the great moments of their “victory” in their fight which showed the BJP as principal villain of the state while YSRC men are getting ready for their innings to expose the motive behind Naidu’s act in playing the victim. It would be an interesting contest, watching who scores more runs in the grand finale that lies ahead. #KhabarLive