Political road closes for Y.S. Sharmila in Telangana but opens in Andhra Pradesh

Ms. Sharmila’s best efforts to make a mark in Telangana politics proved futile but got her some recognition as a fighter just like her father Y.S. Rajashekhar Reddy

January 04, 2024 01:27 pm | Updated 03:36 pm IST - Hyderabad

Y.S. Sharmila merged her YSR Telangana Party with the Congress on Thursday, January 4, 2024

Y.S. Sharmila merged her YSR Telangana Party with the Congress on Thursday, January 4, 2024 | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

It is the end of the road for Y.S. Sharmila in Telangana as she merged her YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) with the Congress in New Delhi on Thursday and along with it her political aspirations in Telangana, a State that she claimed was her home as she was born and brought up here apart from marrying a Telangana man.

It has been a roller coaster political journey for her in Telangana in the last two and half years after she launched the YSRTP to create some political space for her cashing in on the goodwill of her father Y.S. Rajashekhar Reddy, who continues to be popular in Telangana 14 years after he died in a helicopter crash in the most tragic circumstances when he was still the Chief Minister of the combined Andhra Pradesh. His popularity has not diminished much in Telangana despite his strong opposition to the State bifurcation.

Also read: Y.S. Sharmila’s entry brings cheer in Congress party

Ms. Sharmila’s best efforts to make a mark in Telangana politics proved futile but got her some recognition as a fighter just like her father. The party’s launch itself was ridiculed in Telangana, which was formed on sentiments against the Andhra-origin leaders and their perceived domination in the Telangana region. But she went ahead justifying her entry into Telangana politics citing herself as local and also her children.

Longest-ever walkathon

Soon after the launch she went on a padayatra (walkathon) of 3,800 kms, the longest ever by any politician in the combined Telugu States. The ‘Maro Praja Prasthanam’ (Praja Prasthanam was the name of her father’s famous walkathon in early 2000s) started on October 20, 2021, at Chevella in Rangareddy district and covered over 3,800 km till February 19.

Initially, she planned to walk for 4,111 km and conclude at Palair constituency in Khammam district but the police denied permission due to certain comments against the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) Ministers and MLAs flaring up emotions on both sides. It was terminated abruptly with the then ruling BRS party firm on its discontinuation as she was embarrassing the ruling party with wild and provocative allegations.

Since her party’s inception, Ms. Sharmila was seen through different political colours given her little stakes in Telangana politics. She was rumoured to be the arrow from the BJP’s quiver delivered to divide the anti-government vote and also secure the Christian vote to hit the Congress party’s fortunes. Her constant attack on then Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao and the present Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy was seen as a favour to the BJP more than herself.

Moreover, people saw her as a desperate politician after her brother and A.P. Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy ignored her political aspirations in the present Andhra Pradesh. Apparently, she was denied any role in the government or the party there fearing she would emerge as another power centre within the party and government.

Deceived and insulted

Ms. Sharmila not only felt deceived but also insulted by her brother behind whom she stood rock solid when he was in jail for 16 months on corruption charges and when the party’s future itself was at stake. She went on a 3,000 km padayatra from Idupulapaya in Kadapa district to Ichapuram in Srikakulam district covering 2,250 villages and 116 Assembly constituencies, between October 18, 2012, and August 4, 2013.

After launching the YSRTP in May 2021, she soon realised that it was going nowhere with finances drying up and getting little support from Telangana society to make a mark in State politics. There was no big face in the party that could make an impact even at the constituency level. Had the party contested she could have garnered only 2,000 to 3,000 votes, risking her political future altogether.

As elections approached Ms. Sharmila’s effort to merge the party with the Telangana Congress faced stiff opposition from then TPCC president Mr. Revanth Reddy who always argued that her entry would give scope for BRS chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao to rekindle the Telangana sentiment against the Congress. He was able to convince the party high command citing the 2018 election experience when TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu had an electoral alliance with the Congress in Telangana providing the perfect platform for Mr. KCR to play on the Telangana sentiment. Mr. Naidu was always seen as an opponent of a separate State by Telangana society.

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar played the perfect host using his relations with her late father and convincing her to stay away from Telangana elections. He also promised her a decent political future in Andhra Pradesh where she would be accepted without any baggage.

As she officially merged her party with the Congress at the national level, the party leadership is keen to use her to rejuvenate the party in Andhra Pradesh where it has taken a huge beating after the State was bifurcated. The loyal Congressmen moved to YSR Congress Party while several leaders also moved to the TDP for better political opportunities. The official merger today ends Ms. Sharmila’s dreams in Telangana but certainly opens a huge door in Andhra Pradesh.

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