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Will work with Prashant Kishor, he promised to help me, Jagan’s sister YS Sharmila says

Andhra Pradesh CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy's sister Y.S. Sharmila had launched her own party in Telangana in July.

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Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s sister Y.S. Sharmila — who launched her own political party in neighbouring Telangana in July, following “ideological differences” with him — said in an interview Sunday that her party will formally tie-up with political strategist Prashant Kishor in “due time” and that he had assured her of help “as a brother”.

Prashant Kishor, and his political advocacy group I-PAC, had worked as Jagan’s political strategists during the 2019 Andhra assembly polls. The team was instrumental in the Andhra CM’s victory — aggressive campaigning, advertising, and strong social media presence were some of their key ideas that worked out well for the party.

The team had also been closely involved with Jagan’s Praja Sankalpa Yatra — a 3,648 km-long state-wide mega walkathon that he undertook before the assembly polls. Jagan’s party, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) emerged winners with a thumping majority, overthrowing Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

In May this year, however, after helping the Trinamool Congress score a third consecutive win in Bengal against an aggressive BJP, Kishor announced that he was quitting the political strategy space. Subsequent reports have suggested, though, that he was still helping the Trinamool plan its expansion beyond West Bengal.

“Will (hire/work) P.K. in due time. I have not assigned any task to P.K. yet, but he told me that ‘as a brother I will stand by you and help you,’ … So in due time, we should start the process,” Sharmila said Sunday, in a detailed interview with the regional channel ABN.

She was responding to a question on whether she would “hire” Kishor to work with her as a political strategist.

Sharmila clarified, however, that she was yet to talk to Kishor formally, about when to begin the process.

ThePrint reached Kishor on phone and text for a comment but received no response till the time of publication of this report.

Sharmila also talked about her “differences” with her brother during Sunday’s interview but refuted rumours that the two were not on speaking terms.

While she said that she was in touch with Jagan, she had made clear even before launching her party that she had no support from him on her new political journey. The Andhra Pradesh government too had said that Jagan was against the idea of a political party in Telangana — since he doesn’t want to be in opposition in the state ruled by his once-close friend K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR).

Also read: KTR files defamation suit against Telangana Congress chief Reddy as war of words gets ugly

Rise of the CM’s sister

On 8 July — the birth anniversary of her late father and Andhra CM Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), Sharmila launched her political party, the YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP).

The declared aim of the party was to bring “Rajanna Rajyam” (which loosely translates into YSR’s kind of governance) in the state.

Sharmila’s entry into Telangana politics comes at a time when Opposition parties like the Congress and BJP are gaining greater visibility in the state. The state has had invisible opposition for years, further strengthening Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi.

Now, the Congress, which had hit rock bottom in the state following defections to other parties and internal leadership issues, is hopeful of a revival, following Revanth Reddy’s appointment as the PCC chief in June.

Meanwhile, the BJP has been expanding its presence in the state — first in the Dubakka bypoll last year where the saffron party trumped ruling TRS and then in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Poll, in which the BJP won 10 times the number of seats it had won in 2016.

The already aggressive Opposition game, however, does not leave much space for a fledgling party, even though Sharmila is not exactly new to politics.

She had played a key role in campaigning for her brother during the 2019 assembly polls. Before that, in 2012, she had managed to keep YSRCP active with a 3,000-km padayatra, after Jagan was jailed in connection with a disproportionate assets case.

The recent “ideological differences” between the two — leading to speculation of a growing rift between the brother-sister duo — stems, according to party insiders, from Sharmila demanding her rightful share of the party’s 2019 victory and her place in the party. According to sources, Sharmila had asked for a Rajya Sabha nomination, which her brother denied, since he was allegedly not keen on power-sharing within the family.

While talking about her association with Jagan’s party and her role in the padayatra in Sunday’s interview, Sharmila said, “I was not even a member of the party (YSRCP) at any time. They never called me or offered me any post and I also did not ask, not even during the padayatra.”

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

This report has been updated to accurately reflect that assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh were held in 2019 and not 2018. The error is regretted.

Also read: For BJP, ‘Liberation Day’ in Hyderabad has always been Hindu-Muslim issue but experts differ


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