Y.S. Sharmila’s entry may change political equation in Andhra

Hyderabad: With the Y.S. Sharmila joining the Congress party, the political equation may alter in Andhra Pradesh, where the grand old party is looking to revive its fortunes.

A decade after being virtually wiped out from the political scene of Andhra Pradesh due to public anger over bifurcation of the state, the Congress is trying to stage a comeback.

Sharmila, who merged YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) with the Congress on Thursday, has expressed her readiness to accept any task in the party including a responsibility in Andhra Pradesh.

If this happens, it will set the stage for a direct confrontation between Sharmila and her brother and Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

While Jagan Mohan Reddy invoked the legacy of his father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy to float YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) to push out Congress and occupy its political space in the state politics, now the Congress is looking to cash in on part of the same legacy to bounce back in its former stronghold.

Sharmila stood by his brother when he raised the banner of revolt against Congress in the aftermath of the demise of their father and then chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh YSR in a helicopter crash in 2009.

Now, she is seen as someone who can give a new lease of life to the Congress in Andhra Pradesh.

The Congress’ recent victory in Telangana after failing twice to capture power despite claiming credit for carving out the state has given the party hopes of a revival in the other Telugu state.

With Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh due along with the Lok Sabha polls in April-May, the Congress party under Sharmila’s leadership may try to win back YSR loyalists and also those unhappy with Jagan Mohan Reddy’s leadership. Even before Sharmila joined the Congress, it drew the first blood with Alla Ramakrishna Reddy declaring his support. The YSRCP MLA from Mangalagiri recently quit the party and also resigned as MLA.

Some other YSRCP leaders are likely to join hands with Sharmila.

Political observers say coming days may see swift developments.

As Jagan Mohan Reddy is planning to drop many sitting MLAs to overcome perceived anti-incumbeny, some of them may look towards Congress.

In 2019 elections, YSRCP had bagged 151 Assembly seats in 175-member Assembly.

It had also won 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats.

In the second consecutive election, the Congress party drew a blank both in Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

Its vote share dropped to less than two per cent.

With most of its senior leaders joining YSRCP and other parties during the last one decade, the Congress appeared totally demoralised.

“Even if a section of sitting YSRCP MLAs join Congress after being denied re-nomination, it will make a huge difference to Congress to at least improve its vote share and have representation in Assembly,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

Sharmila along with her mother Y.S. Vijayamma had held YSRCP’s banner when Jagan Mohan Reddy was arrested and jailed in alleged disproportionate assets casein 2012. She undertook state-wide padyatra to mobilise support for Jagan, who was spent 16 months in jail.

Sharmila had played an active role in YSRCP campaign in 2014 elections but the party narrowly lost the fight to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

She was again the star campaigner for YSRCP in 2019. After YSRCP stormed to power with a landslide majority in 2019, Sharmila was sidelined by his brother.

Unhappy over this, she decided to chart her own course by entering politics in Telangana in 2021.

She floated YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) promising to bring back Rajanna Rajyam, a reference to the ‘golden rule’ of her late father.

She undertook a padyatra to highlight the problems faced by people and confronted the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government.

On a few occasions, she landed in controversies with her bitter attacks on BRS leaders and was even arrested.

She was keen to field candidates in all 119 Assembly seats in Telangana.

After Congress’ victory in Karnataka, she began talks with the grand old party for a merger.

She also had a meeting with Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

However, the merger did not materialise as a section of Congress leaders in Telangana was against Sharmila’s entry into Telangana politics.

Her decision not to contest the Telangana elections and support to Congress party was acknowledged by the central leadership.

A month after the Congress victory in Telangana, the party invited her for the merger and she readily accepted it. Sharmila has joined the Congress at a time when TDP and Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena have joined hands to tak on YSRCP.

Pawan Kalyan is also trying to rope in BJP to avoid any split of anti-YSRCP votes.

In 2019, YSRCP had polled 49.95 per cent votes.

The TDP was distant second with 39.17 per cent votes and 23 Assembly seats.

While Jana Sena had secured over 5 per cent votes, the Congress and the BJP had polled less than two and one per cent votes, respectively.


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