Y.S. Sharmila, daughter of the late Andhra Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, launches a political party in Telangana

Published : July 08, 2021 21:48 IST

Y.S. Sharmila announcing the agenda of her party during the launch of the YSR Telangana Party at the JRC Convention Centre in Hyderabad on July 8. Photo: NAGARA GOPAL

 

Telangana has a new regional political outfit. After threatening and posturing for weeks to do so, Y.S. Sharmila, the daughter of the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Chief Minister of former unified Andhra Pradesh, has taken the plunge and officially launched her own party in Telangana on July 8. The launch function at the JRC Convention Centre, Hyderabad, was attended by thousands of her party cadre.

The launch of the fledgling regional party, christened YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP), coincided with the birth anniversary of Rajasekhara Reddy. Sharmila unveiled a blue, green, and white party flag which has a geographical representation of the Telangana State and the image of her father at the centre. The 2023 election to the Telangana Assembly is the political mountain she eventually hopes to climb.

During the launch, Sharmila repeatedly said that her aim was to bring back “Rajanna Rajyam” in Telangana. “Rajanna Rajyam” is a phrase that is often associated with the rule of Rajasekhara Reddy (2004-2009) when several welfare and pro-poor schemes were implemented. Sharmila said that she was launching her party to fulfill the aspirations of the Telangana movement, for the self-respect of Telangana, and so that people in power can be questioned. Sharmila announced that she will start a padayatra in the State in 100 days “to interact and understand the people’s problems”.

It is to be seen which political party will be hurt or helped by her entry—the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the regional outfit of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the Congress, or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Her caste credentials could see a consolidation of Reddy votes around her if she is seen and accepted as a new leader to look up to. The Reddys, a powerful, dominant caste group, had enjoyed unrivaled political domination in the unified Andhra Pradesh until 1982, when the Kamma-dominated Telugu Desam Party was launched. The Reddys, who have traditionally been Congress supporters, switched loyalty to the TRS after the formation of Telangana, contributing in some measure to the decimation of Congress in the 2014 and 2019 Legislative Assembly elections. Sharmila may also be able to attract Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe votes.

Sharmila had made the announcement to launch her political party in Telangana during a “Sankalpa Sabha” (public meeting) held at Khammam on April 9. The choice of Khammam was significant since it is a region where the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP)—the party that is in power in Andhra Pradesh, with Sharmila’s brother Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy heading the government—did well in the 2014 Assembly election after Telangana was carved out of the erstwhile unified Andhra Pradesh. While Jagan Mohan Reddy has distanced himself from his younger sister’s political plans in Telangana, their mother Vijayamma, who was present at the Sankalpa Sabha and at the official launch, has offered her blessings and endorsed Sharmila’s political endeavour in Telangana.

Senior members of the YSRCP have publicly said that there was a difference of opinion between the brother and sister over the latter’s political ambitions in Telangana. In the 2014 Telangana Assembly elections, the YSRCP won three seats in the old undivided Khammam district. However, the YSRCP became inactive in Telangana after its three legislators and a Member of Parliament joined the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Jagan Mohan Reddy, who led the YSRCP to power in Andhra Pradesh in 2019, has decided to stay away from Telangana politics. The party did not contest the 2018 Assembly elections in Telangana.

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