Facing a battle of prestige in the June 12 bypolls, ruling Congress appears to be going all out to take credit for various welfare schemes launched by late YS Rajasekhara Reddy, while distancing itself from the graft allegations linked to his tenure as chief minister.
"What all welfare schemes like loans at 25 paise interest to women self-help groups, free power to farmers, health insurance, etc... all are of the Congress party. We have been successfully implementing them in the state," all India Congress Committee general secretary, in charge of Andhra Pradesh affairs, Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed, during his campaign rallies at Tirupati, Nellore, Ongole and other constituencies since Sunday.
However, with Congress facing stiff challenge from YSR Reddy's son Jagan Mohan Reddy in by-elections to one Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly constituencies, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, PCC president Botsa Satyanarayana and Rajya Sabha member K Chiranjeevi are not shying away from holding YSR Reddy responsible for all the scandals that broke out in the state between 2004 and 2009.
"Jagan (Kadapa MP) wielded such influence on his father that YSR signed several deals that now ended up as scandals," these leaders aver. But, Jagan-led YSR Congress leaders question why the welfare schemes were not being implemented anywhere else in the country, including Congress-ruled states, if they were of the party and launched with the "blessings" of Sonia Gandhi.
YSRC honorary president YS Vijaya and her daughter Sharmila, leading the party's by-election campaign, have been pointedly asking why the Congress did not replicate a health insurance scheme like Aarogya Sri in other states.
"As long as he was alive, YSR was hailed as a 'role model' in the country for introducing several welfare schemes for the poor. "Now he is being arraigned by the same Congress," Vijaya, the late Chief Minister's widow laments at her rallies, as crowds erupt in disapproval of his "victimisation". YSR leaders claim that the health ministry had, infact, rejected the state government's proposal to bear partial cost of the health insurance scheme so that its scope could be enlarged.
Also they claim that the Centre is opposed to the free power to farm sector since beginning but YSR doggedly implemented it and turned it into the biggest advantage for the party. They alleged that due to political expedience, the Congress is claiming credit for the same schemes but its gamble will only backfire.