Jagan’s sister tests political waters in Telangana

K V Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on February 09, 2021

Yeduguri Sandinti Sharmila, the sister of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and President of YSR Congress Party, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, has announced her political ambitions by dropping enough hints that she is going to start a political party in Telangana.

Kicking off a meeting with followers of her late father YS Rajasekhara Reddy in Telangana on Tuesday, she said that she is going to hold discussions with leaders and activists from various districts in the next few weeks to understand the ground realities in the State.

Sharmila’s announcement raised eyebrows with political analysts trying to gauge the likely impact of her entry into Telangana’s political arena. “There is a political space for us in Telangana. After the bifurcation of the State, no party is carrying on the legacy of late Rajasekhara Reddy in the State and cash in on that legacy,” a source in Sharmila’s camp told BusinessLine.

Her brother Jagan Mohan Reddy had always maintained that his party was not contesting in elections in Telangana because he had never worked for people’s issues there.

Rajasekhara Reddy had a good support base in rural areas of Telangana. However, his name would attract hostility here as he was against the bifurcation of the State and was quite vocal about it too. The animosity was so intense that hundreds of pro-Telangana agitators pelted stones and stopped Jagan Mohan Reddy from continuing his ‘Odarpu Yatra’ in Warangal district in 2010.

Rajasekhara Reddy’s followers, however, argue that his support base was still in tact in Telangana as people still remembered his developmental works.

The YSRCP, however, is quick to deny any links with Sharmila’s political ambitions. “It is her own decision to test political waters in Telangana. Her brother has tried to advice against the decision but, it seems, she has decided to go ahead,” Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, a close aide of Jagan Mohan Reddy, said.

Sharmila is not a novice to politics. She began her political journey by taking up a State-wide 3,000-km ‘padayatra’ when her brother was in judicial custody for several months facing ‘quid pro quo’ graft charges.

She actively campaigned for YSRCP in the 2019 elections in Andhra Pradesh. But both times, she went into hibernation soon after elections, with critics alleging that Jagan Mohan Reddy denied her the due.

Sharmila’s entry could make a dent into the vote bank of Congress, which is already facing a tough challenge from the Bharatiya Janata Party. Her entry could also put spokes into BJP’s plans to clinch the next elections by attracting a section of youth in villages.

The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) might gain from this development as it would help them revive the argument that Andhra parties are out to harm the interests of Telangana.

Published on February 09, 2021

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