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Sharmila’s Congress Candidacy Convulses Politics In Andhra

In the Congress gamble, YS Sharmila challenges Jagan Reddy's legacy and aspires to rewrite a new chapter in the political saga of Andhra Pradesh

In Andhra Pradesh politics, a riveting saga unfolds, woven intricately around the profound legacy of the late CM YS Rajsekhara Reddy and the interference of Congress. Within this political theater, the spotlight gleams brightly upon the familial battleground where the incumbent Chief Minister, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, and his spirited younger sister, YS Sharmila, find themselves locked in an intense electoral duel. As the looming polling day of May 13 draws near, the rhetoric between the siblings escalates, punctuating the political landscape with fervor and tension.

With each passing day, the clamor of the campaign grows louder, reverberating across the state as leaders from both the YSRCP and Congress engage in unabashed verbal jousts. Social media platforms serve as arenas for the dissemination of political barbs and counterarguments, further amplifying the discourse surrounding this familial feud.

The recent decision of YS Sharmila to align herself with the Congress injects a fresh dynamic into the electoral fray. As she steps forward to contest a Lok Sabha seat from Andhra Pradesh, her candidacy emerges as a direct challenge to the entrenched authority of her brother, Jagan Mohan Reddy.

In a candid exchange with senior journalist Ravindra Ojha of The Interview World, Sharmila offers insights into her decision to join the Congress fold. She sheds light on her efforts to bridge misunderstandings with Sonia Gandhi while expressing apprehensions about the concentration of power within her brother’s administration.

As the daughter of the esteemed former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, Sharmila prepares to confront YSRCP candidate Avinash Reddy from Kadapa in the forthcoming elections. Remarkably, Avinash also happens to be her cousin, further complicating the familial dynamics at play. The rift within the family deepened when Sharmila and her cousin levied accusations against Avinash concerning the untimely demise of Jagan’s uncle in 2019, casting a long shadow over the electoral landscape of Andhra Pradesh.

Q: How do you feel about your chances in your first election campaign: confident in victory or nervous about the outcome?

A: Certainly, stepping into the realm of electoral politics as a newcomer, I maintain a calm demeanor and unwavering determination. The unexpected nature of my candidacy in Kadapa has given me pause for reflection. This turn of events stems from my brother, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, nominating my cousin, Avinash Reddy, for this constituency. It’s pertinent to highlight that Avinash is implicated in the tragic loss of my uncle. Anchored in the pursuit of justice, my electoral campaign drives a steadfast belief in righteousness. I am fortified by the conviction that victory will ultimately be attained through the collective support of the electorate.

Q: How did your journey lead you to join Congress, particularly in light of the public perception regarding the treatment of your family following your father’s passing?

A: Several clarifications were necessary. During my meeting with Sonia Gandhi before the Telangana elections last year, before my party affiliation, I inquired about the inclusion of my father’s name in the CBI chargesheet, accusing him of corruption. She assured me that it was not her intention. Furthermore, she expressed her profound respect for my late father and empathized with my distress, citing her own experience of her husband being named in a chargesheet posthumously.

Subsequently, a revelation from a Congress leader shed light on the situation. It was disclosed that an advocate had pursued the addition of my late father’s name to the chargesheet in three separate courts, purportedly at the insistence of my brother to garner legal benefits across various cases. Astonishingly, within six days of assuming the role of chief minister, my brother elevated this advocate to the position of Additional Advocate General (AAG). This revelation was deeply unsettling to me.

Q: How did the animosity between the two of you originate?

A: I shared an exceptionally close bond with my brother, collaborating intimately alongside him, notably during the extensive Padayatra spanning over 3,200 kilometers aimed at solidifying his leadership within the YSRCP. However, upon assuming the role of chief minister, a profound transformation overtook him. He became unrecognizable to me, displaying a blatant disregard for our shared ideology and prior commitments, notably neglecting to pursue justice for my cousin Sunita, whose father fell victim to a heinous crime, with suspicions pointing towards Avinash.

Despite my earnest efforts to persuade him otherwise, emphasizing the imperative of supporting Sunita’s quest for justice and advocating for a CBI inquiry should she remain dissatisfied with the state-led investigation, he opted to turn a blind eye. As grievances continued to accumulate unabated, the situation has now reached a critical juncture.

A: Can you address your brother’s claim that you’ve succumbed to the influence of Chandrababu Naidu and Revanth Reddy, and clarify your stance on the likelihood of losing your deposit in this election?

A: The assertion that Chandrababu Naidu and Revanth Reddy wielded influence over my decision-making process has no rationality. My brother’s insinuations lack any substantiation. My interaction with Naidu has been scant; our paths crossed only once, when he graciously honored an invitation to my wedding, extended by my father, who held him in high esteem. This singular encounter hardly equates to manipulation or coercion. Similarly, when it came to my child’s marriage, I extended invitations to leaders from various political spheres, including TRS and Pawan Kalyan, reflecting a broad-based approach rather than any narrow allegiance.

My brother’s fixation on Naidu borders on obsession, as he attributes even the actions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Naidu’s influence. Such baseless connections reveal more about his mindset than about any actual political dynamics. His anxiety over my candidacy in Kadapa could be assuaged simply by withdrawing his candidate, a solution that has been suggested previously by my aunt.

The allegations that I joined the Congress party under Naidu’s direction are equally groundless. The extensive efforts including, a 3,200 km padayatra, marches for Samaikyandhra, and the Odarpu yatra in Telangana, reflect by my convictions and commitment to public service. Similarly, the Bye Bye Babu campaign, undertaken during my tenure with the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress, was not orchestrated by external forces but driven by a genuine desire for change.

If my brother is so confident in my defeat, then why the need for an extensive campaign for his preferred candidate, Avinash? The fervor with which his wife and entire team are canvassing suggests a different narrative altogether. Concerns about my brother’s mental well-being, as well as that of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, loom large, given the unsubstantiated accusations and the intensity of their actions.

Q: Why does Jagan Mohan Reddy support the Modi government to facilitate the passage of numerous bills through the parliament?

A: Jagan ingratiated himself with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, assuming a subservient role akin to a foster son. However, amidst this alliance, has he vocally advocated for the interests of his state? It’s noteworthy that his allegiance seems more aligned with Modi’s legacy than that of his predecessor, YSR. Furthermore, Jagan’s conspicuous silence regarding the violence in Manipur has sparked widespread concern and scepticism. Particularly puzzling is his support for Modi’s administration, despite the distressing reality of numerous Christian fatalities under its rule.

YS Sharmila, President of AP Congress Committee, Addressing A Grand Political Rally
YS Sharmila, President of AP Congress Committee, Addressing A Grand Political Rally
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