The leader of the YSR Congress party YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s sudden decision to “forgive” the Congress party is a tactical move to gain minority votes according to political observers.
The calculus is simple. Jagan Reddy cannot afford to lose even a bit of the minority vote in this 2019 battle. In 2014, he lost to the Telugu Desam Party by a vote share of less than 2 percent, and if the minorities decide to go with the TDP in 2019, it would again spell disaster.
While “forgiving” the Congress in the last three days, Jagan even invoked Christianity – his family converted to Christianity many generations ago – but has retained their Reddy caste title – and said that his religion teaches him forgiveness, and not vengeance.
Given that incumbent Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu broke away from the BJP and is seen as closer to a Congress-led secular front now, Jagan seems to be worried that being seen as close to the BJP could alienate the minorities.
This is why the message of forgiveness comes in handy at this stage. By sending out an impression that he is open to the Congress, he is fighting the image that he is most likely to go with the BJP in a post-poll scenario. His worry mainly stems from the fact that the 2019 elections are being seen – at least by the minorities – as a secular versus communal fight and anyone remotely close to the BJP may be seen with suspicion by the minorities.
Jagan’s electoral arithmetic is a combination of the Reddy caste, minorities and SC/ST vote. Hence, given the close fight against the TDP, even a small loss of vote share could prove disastrous, and Jagan simply needs to reiterate that he is not on the BJP side of the fence.
Jagan has claimed that he will support anyone who gives “in writing” special status for Andhra Pradesh and has repeatedly attacked the BJP for not giving the special state status. But this is not enough to ward off the perception that he is a potential BJP ally and hence, ostensibly “forgiving” the Congress is one way to secure the minority vote.