Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy skipped a meeting to celebrate the legacy of his father and former Congress CM Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy, further fuelling speculation of a rift with his sister Y.S. Sharmila.
The meeting in Hyderabad Thursday, the 12th death anniversary of YSR, was hosted by Jagan’s mother Y.S. Vijayalakshmi. While the Andhra CM gave it a miss, it was attended by sister Sharmila.
Earlier in the day, however, Jagan had accompanied his mother Vijayamma and sister Sharmila to pay homage to his father at the YSR Ghat in Idupulapaya, Kadapa district, Andhra Pradesh. Even then, sources said, there was a “coldness” between the siblings.
“Though they came together, they did not talk to each other much even though they were there for about 40 minutes,” a source close to the family told ThePrint. “It seems like there was pressure from the mother to appear together and not fuel further speculation. They attended it together but it was more to save face.”
The two siblings have not had the best of ties since July, when Y.S. Sharmila launched her YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) in Telangana without her brother’s backing.
Back then, Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, an advisor to the Andhra government and a member of Jagan’s YSRCP, clarified that the chief minister was against the idea of a political party in neighbouring states.
Since then, speculation has been rife that the rift between the duo has only grown.
Messages in a Thursday meeting
The ‘YSR commemoration meeting’ Thursday held significance as the 12th year is related to the Hindu water festival Pushkaralu, which occurs once in 12 years.
Experts say this was planned as YSR was known to be connected to water and took personal interest to revamp the state’s irrigation system.
They added that it was also held in Hyderabad in an attempt to leverage Sharmila’s political party in Telangana.
“I believe the meeting was organised to reignite memories of YSR for people in the Telangana region. Inviting YSR’s contemporaries is a statement Sharmila is trying to make about the support she has,” political observer Palwai Raghavendra Reddy said.
“The presence of invitees from Andhra-Rayalaseema regions might not help her greatly electorally but it is certainly good for optics.”
Sources said that mother Vijayamma, who holds an honorary position in Jagan’s YSRCP, was personally involved in sending out invitations. They added that invitations were sent to over 250 people, which included former civil servants, and political party leaders who once worked with YSR in the Congress.
A majority of YSR loyalists in the Congress party did not attend the meeting.
Sources in the Congress said the party had, both in Andhra and Telangana, issued a diktat directing leaders not to attend, saying the meeting was “politically motivated”.
Despite that, at least three Congress leaders attended, including former Rajya Sabha member KVP Ramachandra Rao.
YSRCP leaders, although a majority of them are based in Andhra Pradesh, voluntarily abstained from attending the meeting.
A senior government official, also a close aide to the Reddy family, told ThePrint on condition of anonymity, that he was also invited to the meeting but refrained from going following “orders from the top”.
“Most of the party leaders were in Andhra and all of them celebrated YSR’s legacy in their own constituencies — in mandals and villages. So, they were all busy there,” YSRCP MLA Abbaya Chowdary told ThePrint.
Y.S. Sharmila has always campaigned for brother Jagan — be it before the 2019 assembly elections when he won by a thumping victory or in 2012, when she managed to keep YSRCP active with a 3000-km padayatra after Jagan was jailed in connection with a disproportionate assets case.
She has, however, never been part of his government or the cabinet. But party insiders told ThePrint that she had asked for her rightful share in the form of a Rajya Sabha nomination, which her brother denied. They added that the chief minister is not keen on power sharing within the family.
Their political tussles have begun showing in their personal lives. Unlike every year, Sharmila did not visit her brother Jagan on Rakhi this time around. She instead wished him on social media platform Twitter, and tied Rakhis on a few of her party leaders.
Sharmila has also begun referring to herself as the “daughter of YSR” — right from her Twitter bio to her public meetings. On her father’s death anniversary Thursday, she tweeted that YSR always pushed her to win even if she was fighting alone.
ఒంటరి దానినైనా విజయం సాధించాలని,
కష్టాలెన్నైనా ధైర్యంగా ఎదురుకోవాలని,
ఎప్పుడూ ప్రేమనే పంచాలని,
నా వెన్నంటి నిలిచి, ప్రోత్సహించి
నన్ను మీ కంటిపాపలా చూసుకొన్నారు.
నాకు బాధొస్తే మీ కంట్లోంచి నీరు కారేది.
ఈ రోజు నా కన్నీరు ఆగనంటుంది.
I Love & Miss U DAD
— YS Sharmila (@realyssharmila) September 2, 2021
Mother backing daughter
Stuck in the rift between the siblings is Vijayamma, who is now visibly supporting Sharmila in her political venture. For long in the shadows of her husband and then son, Vijayamma has begun coming to the fore.
She attended Sharmila’s first public meeting in Khammam in April and also sought blessings for her daughter. She was also present at the YSRTP’s grand launch in Hyderabad on 8 July.
Speculation is now rife that Vijayamma, who has largely been inactive in Jagan’s YSRCP, might give up her position in the party to support Sharmila.
“For her, both her children are the same. She has perhaps now decided to support Sharmila,” a senior YSRCP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
“She stood by Jagan when it was necessary and now it is Sharmila’s turn. She cannot do that while holding a position in Jagan’s party. In fact, Jagan’s wife Y.S. Bharati (though officially not part of the party) has a better say in the YSRCP than the mother.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)