As the political campaign reaches its peak ahead of the November 30 polls in Telangana, it is not Prime Minister Narendra Modi, nor the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao or his Minister-son K T Rama Rao nor the Congress leader Revanth Reddy that is at the centre stage.
It is Barrelakka (the sister with buffaloes) alias Sirisha, a graduate from a remote Mahboobnagar village, that is hogging the limelight and winning hearts across the State. Barrelakka shot to fame a few months ago after her reel on her herd of buffaloes went viral. With the herd in the backdrop, she related how they are supporting her financially and helping her pursue her studies.
Desperate and disappointed over the inordinate delay in notifications for government jobs, thousands of unemployed youth in the State immediately identified themselves with Sirisha and she instantaneously became a symbol of growing unemployment situation in the State.
She sprang a surprise early this month as she announced her decision to contest the Kollapur Assembly constituency. Initially, political parties did not take her seriously but they were forced to after she received overwhelming support from social media. This has rattled the main political parties.
They are worried a lot because she could upset the prospects of the top contenders.
The youth, some intellectuals, and social activists have announced their support for her decision and pooled resources from all over the State to assist her in the campaign. “We are enlisting the like-minded people to visit her constituency in turns till the campaign closes on Tuesday evening,” an activist told businessline.
Political scientist G Haragopal said that it is a kind of experiment by society. “It is an innocent effort by a young lady to speak her mind to people. It is not easy for her to win the election but, for sure, it will trigger a debate in society,” he told businessline.
The main political parties, who kept mum on her candidature, are now in denial mode, saying that she’s of no consequence. But a physical attack on her and her brother showed that she had ruffled a few feathers and some parties were losing sleep. A video where she wept while narrating the ordeal went viral too.
She moved the High Court seeking protection and got a favourable order.
The ruling party alleged that she was being funded by the Opposition even as support from various quarters was pouring in. Some social activists are running a social media campaign, seeking the support of volunteers who were willing to campaign for her in the constituency.
Former journalism teacher Padmaja Shaw, who is part of the advocacy group Jago Telangana, however, felt that it was a flash in the pan media effect and didn’t see much impact. “It will have a momentary impact,” she said.