In a totally unanticipated move, Yeduguri Sandinti Vijayalakshmi, better known as YS Vijayamma, the mother of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, suddenly announced Friday her decision to quit her son’s Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party, and join hands with her daughter—who has now become active in the politics of Telangana.
Though Vijayamma is the honorary President of YSRCP, helmed by her son, she announced that she would now actively assist her daughter YS Sharmila Reddy, who has recently launched the Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Telangana Party (YSRTP) in Hyderabad.
YSR legacy spreads to Telangana
“When Jagan needed my help, I assisted him. Now Sharmila requires my help,” Vijayalakshmi announced on the birth anniversary of her late husband YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the 14th chief minister of Andhra Pradesh whose sudden death in 2009 paved the way for the creation of Telangana on 2 June 2014. What Vijayamma did not say is that her entry into Telangana (through her daughter’s party) would add another dimension to Telangana’s politics.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is said to be lording over the state after having won two polls after the creation of Telangana. But with the third assembly election slated for 2024, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is now gearing up to capture the state. The BJP already controls Karnataka, and its victory in Telangana will allow it a larger and wider footprint in South India.
How many seats the combination of Vijayamma and Sharmila can manage in Telangana is too early to predict. However, going by son Jagan’s strategy in Andhra Pradesh, it is reasonable to assert that the mother-daughter duo might want to target the votes of Other Backward Classes (OBCs), minorities and Dalits. This will surely dent the votes that the TRS would otherwise get in Telangana. And this would be to the advantage of the BJP.
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Sharmila had launched her party with the avowed objective of taking on the TRS. But a year later, she has not been very successful. She would certainly get more firepower with her mother’s entry—and this will benefit the BJP—albeit in an indirect fashion. Vijayamma’s entry will strengthen opposition vote in Telangana and erode ruling TRS’ existing vote base, which might be good news for BJP.
Vijayamma was seen as a homemaker when her husband lived, but following YSR’s sudden death in 2009, she first contested the assembly election from Andhra Pradesh’s Pulivendula and won. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, she unsuccessfully contested from Visakhapatnam.
But her daughter, the firebrand Sharmila, undertook a 3000-km yatra in Andhra Pradesh. With Jagan locked up in jail, it seemed that she would be the primary player from YSR Congress. But later, she moved over to Telangana setting tails wagging. Some analysts said that Sharmila and her brother Jagan—who had been released from jail and was now chief minister of the state—were not getting along well, so this was a move to keep them apart.
Although the move for creation of Telangana was widely supported across the state, many people have lately become wary of the TRS largely because the family of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is lording over everything. Moreover, while the TRS government is actively bringing in investments (including hi-tech investments in Information Technology and frontier areas), people are not very happy because of the government’s poor performance in other domains.
“Whether the performance of the state government is poor or not, they are already in power for two terms, and therefore a significant section of the electorate seeks a change,” says G Ramakrishna, an old resident of Hyderabad. “The BJP wants to secure the change of votes, and in addition, if the Vijayamma and Sharmila outfit can divide the TRS votes, nothing could be better,” he added.
Kingshuk Nag was the former Resident Editor of The Times of India, Hyderabad. He has authored ten books, including Battleground Telangana, which dealt with the formation of the state. He tweets @NagKingshuk. Views are personal.
(Edited by Zoya Bhatti)