Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s daughter, Y.S. Sharmila, all set to launch political party in Telangana

Published : February 09, 2021 18:13 IST

Y.S. Sharmila greets her supporters and well-wishers in front of her Lotus Pond residence in Hyderabad, on February 9. Photo: NAGARA GOPAL

Y.S. Sharmila, daughter of former Chief Minister, the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and sister of present Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, is all set to launch a political party and make a political splash into Telangana politics ahead of the 2023 Assembly election in the State. Telangana’s political scenario is now dominated by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and a rising Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the 2018 Assembly election to Telangana’s 119 Assembly seats, the TRS riding a wave of popularity won a landslide victory, netting 88 seats. The Congress finished a poor second with 19 seats, followed by Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) with seven seats. The BJP won a solitary seat but since then it has emerged as political force winning four of the State’s 17 parliamentary seats. The saffron party has also done exceedingly well in the recent Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation election, emerging as the second largest party.

Sharmila had called for a meeting of Rajasekhara Reddy’s loyalists, especially those from Telangana’s Nalgonda district, on February 9, at the family’s Lotus Pond residence in Hyderabad. She is likely to name the to-be-launched political outfit YSR Telangana Congress, in a bid to cash in on the name and goodwill the former Chief Minister of the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh still has with sections of the electorate. Rajasekhara Reddy’s welfare schemes are still fondly remembered by many voters. The announcement of the party’s name will be made at a public meeting. Sources close to Sharmila said that she would undertake a padayatra covering 16 Assembly constituencies in Telangana once the party is launched.

Jagan Mohan Reddy’s Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party, which he launched in 2011, rules in Andhra Pradesh and has a State unit in Telangana. Since its formation, the YSR Congress Party has mainly confined itself to Andhra Pradesh politics, preferring to be largely dormant in Telangana. But sources point out that there are numerous leaders across Telangana, many of whom owed allegiance to Rajasekhara Reddy and who have not been active in politics since his untimely death, who are now keen to enter mainstream politics. Sharmila’s political initiative is a godsend for them.

It therefore came as no surprise when Sharmila, soon after her arrival at Lotus Pond, addressed these very same loyalists, reminding them of the vacuum that had been created in the State after the demise of her father. She assured them of getting ‘Rajanna Rajyam’ (Rajasekhar Reddy kind of regime) in Telangana. Apart from Sharmila, the Lotus Pond meeting, which was termed as an ‘Aatmeeya Sammelanam’ (friendly get-together) of followers of Rajasekhara Reddy, was also attended by her mother Y.S. Vijayamma and Sharmila’s husband Anil Kumar, who is a Christian religious preacher. Incidentally, the February 9 meeting marks what would have been the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s 50th marriage anniversary.

Speaking to the media prior to the meeting at Lotus Pond Sharmila said: “I want to understand the ground realities and to take the suggestions [of leaders] and the information they have. I called people from Nalgonda district. This is just a connection [with them]. The meeting will be held with people from every district.” She however did not directly respond to questions on when she would launch her party.

Sharmila, who is known to have substantial support among the YSR Congress Party cadre, has consistently been a part of that party’s election campaigns. Sharmila and Vijayamma had vigorously campaigned for the YSR Congress Party during the general election in 2019. Subsequent to the YSR Congress Party clinching a landslide victory, Jagan Mohan took over the chief ministership of Andhra Pradesh and Sharmila’s political aspirations were confined to the back burner. Sharmila also played a crucial role in Jagan Mohan Reddy’s career in the past, conducting a padayatra to garner support for him, when he was arrested in 2012 by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a disproportionate assets case.

There has been speculation over the reasons why Sharmila has now decided to launch a political outfit. Will it be independent of the YSR Congress Party – regional media houses have speculated that Sharmila has been considering starting her own party in Telangana independent of the YSR Congress Party owing to differences within the family over her political aspirations – or will the new political outfit be more of a resuscitation of the YSR Congress Party in the State?

Sharmila has been a constant target of online abuse from critics over her personal life. In January 2019, months before the Lok Sabha election, the Hyderabad's Central Crime Station police arrested a man for posting obscene material on social media against her. In recent months, the opposition in Andhra Pradesh has used her and her Christian preacher husband to target Jagan Mohan Reddy. Opposition leaders have accused Anil Kumar of orchestrating “religious conversions” in the State, and alleged that the Jagan Mohan Reddy government has allowed him to do so. However, there has been no evidence of forced religious conversions in the state.

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