YSR Congress leader Sharmila who is on her ‘Maro Praja Prasthanam’ was accorded a rousing welcome by thousands of supporters and leaders of the party when she stepped into Mahabubnagar district – gateway of Telangana region – around 4 p.m. on Thursday by crossing the Tungabhadra road bridge from Kurnool district.

She was welcomed amid drumbeats, bursting of crackers and showering of flowers. YSRC workers turned up in huge numbers to accord her a welcome into the Telangana region not only from different parts of the district but also from other districts of the regions as well.

YSR Congress leaders Konda Surekha from Warangal came with her supporters and met Sharmila at Tungabhadra bridge and garlanded her.

Sharmila who started her ‘Maro Praja Prasthanam’ padayatra on October 18 from YSR ghat in Idupulapaya of Kadapa district traversed through 85 km in Kadapa district, around 186 km in Anantapur district and around 195 km in Kurnool district -- altogether 466 km in 36 days of walkathon in Rayalseema -- before entering Mahabubnagar district wherein she is expected to cover 225 km in 15 days covering eight Assembly segments.

Sharmila and her mother YSRC honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma addressed the first public meeting at Pulloor village of Manopad mandal where they both started their speeches referring to Telangana. Though both did not directly pledge their support to the Telangana struggle or announce that their party would strive to achieve Telangana, they said neither YSR nor Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy was against Telangana.

They said both respected the sentiments of the Telangana people.

Ms. Vijayamma started her speech by paying homage to martyrs who committed suicide for Telangana and also to those who died of heart attack after YSR’s demise in a copter crash.

She said YSR treated people of all regions equal though he belonged to Rayalaseema. “He was never opposed Telangana,” she said.

Ms. Vijayamma recalled that it was YSR who sent a delegation of 41 Telangana MLAs to Delhi under the leadership of G. Chinna Reddy urging All India Congress Committee president Sonia Gandhi to take a decision in favour of Telangana.

She said YSR was of the opinion that Telangana should be formed without hurting anybody’s feelings. She said he was also of the opinion that the Centre should create Telangana according to Article 3 of the Constitution.

Ms. Vijayamma said Jagan also respected the sentiment of Telangana people and reminded that out of respect for the sentiment, he did not field any candidates to contest the by-elections when six Telangana Rashtra Samiti MLAs had resigned.

Sharmila said her father as the Chief Minister had launched every welfare scheme including his padayatra from Telangana as he had abundant love for the region. She saluted those who died for Telangana cause and urged the youth not to commit suicide for Telangana. “Let us keep alive Telangana and let every family of Telangana live happily.”

“I am speaking by pledging on the soil of Telangana that YSR had immense love for Telangana and so does Jagan.

Sharmila made a night halt at Kalugatta village by walking 8 km on first day of her padayatra.