After months of an internal political rift within the YSRCP over the Vijayawada Central constituency Assembly ticket, senior leader Vangaveeti Radha, the son of late Kapu leader and Congress MLA Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga has quit the party, citing political compulsion as the reason.
Radha has been upset for a while after Malladi Vishnu, who joined the party in July 2017 was elevated within the party and made the constituencyâ€™s coordinator. Reports also suggested that the party leadership was considering Vishnu for the Vijayawada Central ticket instead of Radha, which left the latter furious.
In his resignation letter to YSRCP chief Jaganmohan Reddy, Radha said, "To achieve your aspiration of becoming Chief Minister, it is necessary for you to restrict everyone in the party." He further stated that he had to quit the party as he had greater political aspirations. "To achieve my aspiration, it is inevitable for me to have a path without any restrictions. In this context, I'm resigning for the membership of the party." He also said that he will work for the betterment of the common man.
A top source from YSRCP earlier told TNM that Radha was asked to either contest from Vijayawada East constituency or the Machilipatnam Lok Sabha seat, even though he insisted that he wanted the Vijayawada Central ticket, which has been the bastion of his family. Malladi Vishnu also spoke to TNM at the time and said that he was confident of getting the ticket.
Observers also note that YSRCP had to choose Malladi Vishnu over Radha given the caste dynamics of the constituency. Insiders say that the YSRCP leadership considered Vishnu, a Brahmin, as the community is a considerable vote bank in the constituency. However, it remains to be seen if Radha's move can dent the Kapu vote bank of the YSRCP in the city.
Radha, who is viewed as a successor of prominent Kapu leader Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga, enjoys a considerable amount of support in the city, given its political history.
While YSRCP is yet to respond on the resignation, all eyes are on Radha to see which party he would join now. While there was speculation about his entry into Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena, it's also widely rumoured that he may even consider his father's arch-rival, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)
Saga of dissent
The issue over Radha not getting the ticket he desired has triggered a reaction from his followers in the past as well. In September last year, his followers, including corporators, staged a protest at the statue of Vangaveeti Mohana Ranga Rao in the city demanding that the party should not give the ticket to Vishnu. Some even threatened to kill themselves and poured petrol on their own bodies to set themselves afire, but were foiled by the police. Radha himself had to step into the scene at the time, to pacify the crowd.
Radha recently held his fatherâ€™s 30th death anniversary at Katuru in Krishna district, where Vangaveeti Ranga hailed from. However, unlike every year, the event barely saw a presence of YSRCP flags, instead being confined to a congregation of Ranga's followers. That event itself, indicated to the possible exit of Radha from Jagan's party.
Radhakrishna's father, Vangaveeti Ranga, was a former MLA, who made his way up through gang rivalries and faction wars in the 1970s in Vijayawada, before he joined politics and became a Kapu leader in the 80s. In the early hours of December 25, 1988, Ranga was assassinated by members of a rival group in public as he sat on an indefinite fast in Vijayawada.
The violence that Ranga's murder triggered, claimed over 40 lives in the city and property worth several crore rupees was destroyed. The violence only abated after then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister NT Rama Rao made TDP legislator Devineni 'Nehru' Rajasekhar surrender. Then Home Minister Kodela Sivaprasada Rao also had to resign.