There’s a whodunit in the launch of YS Sharmila’s new Telangana party, writes V J M Divakar

On July 8, Y S Sharmila, the daughter of united Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister late Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and sister of now AP CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, formally launched her political outfit – YSR Telangana Party – in a bid to come into power in the seven-year-old state. July 8 is the birth anniversary of Rajasekhara Reddy. Launching her party at a convention centre in Hyderabad, Sharmila; along with her mother Vijayamma and husband and evangelist Anil Kumar, made several promises to the people of Telangana.

For the active votaries of a separate Telangana state, who had waged a relentless battle for 13 long years, it is difficult to digest that Sharmila is speaking about the welfare and development of Telangana, or the lack of it. Her late father YSR, as he was popularly known, had always been a staunch opponent of separate statehood for Telangana.

It was his vehement opposition that compelled the UPA-led Central government to keep in abeyance statehood for Telangana statehood for several years, even after then Home Minister P Chidambaram had formally announced in 2009 in Parliament and outside that the UPA government had, in principle, has agreed to a separate Telangana state. Only after the then chief minister, YSR, died in a helicopter crash could Telangana be finally formed in 2014.

Telangana Political Joint Action Committee

Even at the height of Telangana movement, when the late leader’s son YS Jagan was on a padyatra, he was stopped by a violent mob from entering the then Warangal district in March 2010. Jagan, as president of the YSRC Party, had opposed the formation of Telangana state and tried to visit Warangal. Mobs had thrown stones at him at the railway station and police had to open fire. This had led to Telangana forming a political joint action committee (JAC) led by Prof M Kodandaram and organising a massive people’s rally, the Sakala Janula Samme (strike by all) in Hyderabad, which turned out to be the biggest-ever human gathering in the history of entire country. It virtually showcased the sentiment of people in Telangana and put pressure on the then UPA government and the main opposition party, the BJP, to fall in line in favour of a separate Telangana state.

Given this background and her family’s opposition to the formation of Telangana state, Sharmila has declared that she will undertake a 100-day padyatra (perhaps, as advised by her former consultant Prashant Kishor). If she does so, it will only favour the ruling TRS and its supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. It will once again ignite the Telangana sentiment and evoke the past when YSR, Jagan, his mother Vijayamma and even Sharmila herself had opposed the formation of Telangana state. In short, the launch of Sharmila’s political party is only a plus point for KCR. He is a past master in converting any situation into his favour and, thanks to Sharmila, will ignite Telangana sentiments again and return to power for the third time in the state.

This precisely is the reason for speculation as to who is really behind Sharmila’s political entry in Telangana. Many believe it is the handiwork of the BJP government (read Modi-Shah) at the Centre, with the tacit understanding of the TRS (read KCR) in the state.

New state Congress chief

On the Congress front, the newly appointed Telangana Congress Committee president and MP A Revanth Reddy has taken charge amid considerable fanfare and enthusiasm, the likes of which have not been seen in the recent past within the Congress. The huge crowd that took part in the rally and public meeting at Gandhi Bhavan is a sure indicator that people are looking for an alternative to TRS. Revanth is a good orator and, like KCR, can connect with his audience. He can spice up matters bringing in the required seriousness, wit and humour. He does his homework before speaking to people or addressing media conferences.

However, will Revanth be able to take on the inner conflicts within the Congress on one hand and face the mighty KCR on the other? No immediate answers can be expected, as of now. Revanth is reportedly planning to revive the JAC with all opposition parties, organisations, and civil society representatives against Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao, his family rule and their alleged corruption.

The Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) President Prof M Kodandaram will continue being the convener of the JAC, which had earlier steered the entire Telangana statehood movement till TRS came to power, with KCR becoming the CM. If the JAC, as proposed by Revanth, becomes a reality and takes up a movement against KCR this time, then there will interesting and exiting political times in Telangana in the run-up to assembly elections within the state in late 2023 or early 2024.

The writer is a senior journalist based in Hyderabad

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