Family feud: Jagan doubles down on support to Avinash Reddy as two sisters invoke a murder in Andhra poll pitch

YS Jagan came to power with an overwhelming majority in 2019. It has been 1,849 days since then, yet the question of who killed Viveka remains a mystery.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published Apr 07, 2024 | 4:40 PMUpdatedApr 07, 2024 | 4:59 PM

MP Avinash Reddy, CM YS Jagan, Vivekananda Reddy, YS Sunitha, and INC Andhra chief Sharmila.

Beginning his campaign trail on 27 March from his home turf Kadapa, the YSRCP chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy alleged that the smear campaign of the “two sisters” against him was known to everyone, and accused them of having nexus with his arch-rival TDP.

One of the two sisters, YS Sharmila Reddy, is the State Congress chief and his sibling, and the other YS Sunitha Reddy, is his cousin and the daughter of his slain uncle, YS Vivekananda Reddy.

In 2019, in the run-up to elections, on 15 March, the 68-year-old Vivekananda Reddy, was found dead in his house in Pulivendula.

With just one month remaining for the elections on 11 April, the high-profile death case made much noise, as the initial reports of death due to heart attack turned out to be false and revealed a murder. The earlier theories were against the TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu by the then opposition leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy who demanded a CBI inquiry.

YS Vivekananda Reddy

YS Vivekananda Reddy. (File photo)

Then in the elections, Jagan came to power with over 151 out of 175 assembly seats in 2019.

But, after 1,849 days, three Special Investigation Teams under two governments examining 1,300 witnesses, and three supplementary charge sheets by the CBI with 248 witnesses, the question over who killed Vivekananda Reddy remains unanswered.

And, it turns one of the election issues this time round.

In this election, the allegations have been directly shifted from the TDP to the “two blood sisters” by Jagan and the two sisters question one of the main accused being fielded as YSRCP’s candidate with full support from Jagan.

Jagan seems to supports an accused in the murder, who also happens to be his cousin and the sitting Kadapa MP, Avinash Reddy. He has nominated Avinash Reddy again as the MP candidate from Kadapa for the third time. Avinash Reddy alleges that Viveka’s son-in-law, N. Rajasekhar Reddy, and YS Sunitha Reddy were involved in the murder, and he was falsely implicated.

The allegations against Sunitha Reddy and her husband were further amplified by YS Jagan’s Sakshi Media. It claimed that Sunitha and her husband were not happy with Vivekananda Reddy’s second marriage and there was a dispute over assets.

But the CBI probe dismissed this angle. “The properties were in the name of companies, wherein the deceased was a co-director/signatory. Therefore, he was not in position to property without the consent of other directors/who were also close family members,” the premier investigation agency said.

Meanwhile, Sharmila has been supporting Sunitha Reddy. She has locked horns with Avinash Reddy by contesting from the Kadapa parliamentary seat. They both alleged that Avinash Reddy and others were involved in the murder, as they perceived Vivekananda Reddy as a hindrance to their political careers. Their election pitch revolved around appealing to the public to choose the side they would take: With the victim fighting for justice or the accused.

This makes the fight not merely about defeating Avinash or fighting for the legacy of the late CM YSR, but more about the public’s trust and whom they choose to believe.

However, the question that often arises is ‘why’ Jagan is backing Avinash Reddy despite the considerable embarrassment that comes with his sibling’s revolt in his home turf.

The revolt by the sisters not only puts him in a difficult position in Kadapa but also among his cadre across the state, as, Sharmila campaigned for them before 2019 and is more significantly known as the daughter of late CM YSR.

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The ‘why’ part

“Five years ago, I never imagined something like what happened to my father would occur. If it had been a normal death, that would have been different. However, what happened to my father was a brutal murder,” Sunitha Reddy told South First.

YS Jagan, Sharmila, Avinash, and Sunitha Reddy. (Supplied)

YS Jagan, Avinash, Sunitha, and Sharmila (Supplied).

Speaking on her first day on the campaign trail, she stated that politics was not her preferred field; as a doctor, her focus has always been on the hospital. However, she believes that it is time to come out and support her sister, Sharmila, against Avinash Reddy, which was her father’s wish.

She said she initially couldn’t fathom that her own family members themselves were involved in murder.

When asked why she stated that her father was murdered with the involvement of Avinash Reddy and why Jagan chose him above the two sisters, she claimed that the reasoning was clear in the CBI charge sheet.

She pointed to the third supplementary CBI charge sheet, emphasising that it was the political aspirations of Avinash Reddy which conspired in the murder of her father and the intimation of the death to Jagan well before 6:15 am—the time when the first call was made by Vivekananda Reddy’s PA, MV Krishna Reddy, after finding Vivekananda dead—to N Rajasekhar Reddy (Sunitha’s husband) explains Jagan’s interest to back Avinash Reddy.

However, YS Avinash Reddy, in a video released on 27 April 2023, alleged that the case was purely political in nature orchestrated by the TDP-BJP and the CBI to implicate him and YSRCP, despite lacking any actual involvement in the case.

He alleged that the letter written by his father, accusing the driver of murdering him, was hidden by N Rajasekhar Reddy after Vivekananda Reddy was found dead, hinting at a conspiracy.

The CBI’s charge sheet comprises 145 pages detailing the incident and evidence tampering.

Of the eight accused, Shaik Dasthagiri, a former driver of the slain leader had turned approver. Avinash Reddy is on anticipatory bail; Gajjala Uday Kumar Reddy and YS Bhaskar Reddy were arrested.

Dasthagiri approached the Telangana High Court seeking cancellation of the anticipatory bail granted to Avinash Reddy. He is now campaigning against Jagan in Pulivendula constituency.

Also Read: YS Sharmila uses Viveka’s murder as ammo as she kicks off poll campaign in Andhra

The legacy

The Yeduguri Sandinti family, widely recognised for their political influence, hails from Kadapa. The current siblings represent the fifth generation of the lineage, all descending from a common grandfather, YS Venkat Reddy. Venkat Reddy was married to two wives, Mangamma and Lakshamma.

YS Family Tree.

YS family tree.

YS Raja Reddy was the grandson of Mangamma and Reddy, while Chinna Konda Reddy is the grandson of Lakshamma and Reddy.

YS Raja Reddy had two sons: the late two-time Congress CM YSR, and YS Vivekananda Reddy. YSR’s children are Jagan and Sharmila Reddy, while Vivekananda’s child is Sunitha Reddy.

On the other hand, Chinna Konda Reddy has a son named Bhaskar Reddy and a daughter, Sugana Reddy.

YS Raja Reddy was involved in mining business. He was killed in a bomb attack at Vemula, Kadapa, in 1998. Following his death, his legacy passed into the hands of his sons, namely, YS Rajasekhara Reddy and YS Vivekananda Reddy.

The CBI stated that YS Raja Reddy had extended financial help to his cousin YS Chinna Konda Reddy and the latter could not repay. Later, as per mutual understanding, some of the assets of Konda Reddy family were transferred to Raja Reddy’s family as a settlement for the outstanding dues.

With this settlement, YS Bhaskar Reddy, the son of Konda Reddy, and his brothers were not happy. In 1996, YSR got his son Jagan married to Bharathi, the daughter of Sugana Reddy, who is one of the sisters of YS Bhaskar Reddy.

It is further revealed that Bhaskar Reddy and his family had always been ambitious about their family’s involvement in politics. Although the late CM YSR had always kept them in confidence, he never allowed them to actively participate in politics.

Bhaskar Reddy and his family members could not fulfill their ambition of becoming MLCs, MLAs, or MPs, while the descendants of Raja Reddy family, YS Rajasekhara Reddy and YS Vivekananda Reddy, were dominant in politics. Furthermore, YSR promoted his son Jagan, who became an MP in May 2009.

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The fallout

A sudden shift occurred when YS Rajasekhara Reddy died in a helicopter crash in September 2009. After his demise, Jagan, who was then a Lok Sabha MP, formed a new political party under the name of ‘Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party’ (YSRCP) without consulting his uncle Vivekananda Reddy, who was the only senior politician from the family.

Jagan with Vijayamma

YS Jagan Mohan Reddy with his mother Vijayamma. (X)

In the Assembly by-election in 2011, the Congress nominated Vivekananda Reddy from Pulivendula against YS Vijayamma (Jagan’s mother) of the YSRCP.

It is highlighted that since there were two candidates from the same family, Jagan discussed the matter with Vivekananda Reddy and requested him to contest for MP/MLA from YSRCP.

Vivekananda Reddy did not agree with this proposal, saying that he had already committed to the Congress high command to support them and further stated that after this election, he would not be a problem for YSRCP as he would quit the Congress and support Jagan.

But Bhaskar Reddy did not support Vivekananda Reddy and instead, he backed Vijayamma, who defeated Vivekananda Reddy.

Despite the defeat, Vivekananda Reddy always wanted Jagan to carry on the legacy of their family in politics. Therefore, in a family gathering, Vivekananda Reddy announced his decision to quit the Congress and joined YSRCP in May 2012.

The CBI investigation claimed that due to the increasing popularity of the YSRCP, and also with the fact that Bhaskar Reddy had helped Vijayamma win the Pulivendula by-election, Jagan had committed Vivekananda Reddy for entrusting a portfolio, but the MP ticket for the 2014 election from Kadapa was offered to Bhaskar Reddy’s son Avinash Reddy.

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Quest for power

As per the commitment made by Jagan, Vivekananda Reddy was given an MLC ticket from Kadapa in 2017. By this time, Vivekananda Reddy had again become active in politics from YSRCP, and if he had won the MLC election, he would have been a strong contender for the MP ticket from Kadapa constituency.

YS Avinash Reddy. (Facebook)

YS Avinash Reddy. (Facebook)

In a setback, Vivekananda Reddy could not win the MLC election, which was very shocking for him as he was very confident of his victory. In the MLC election, the affairs in Pulivendula were being looked after by YSRCP leader D Siva Shankar Reddy, who was very close to Bhaskar Reddy and Avinash Reddy.

Furthermore, Siva Shankar Reddy himself wanted to contest the MLC election. Bhaskar Reddy and Avinash Reddy also wanted that it should be given to Siva Shankar Reddy instead of Vivekananda Reddy.

Thus, Siva Shankar Reddy, Bhaskar Reddy, and Avinash Reddy are said to have gotten annoyed and developed a grudge against Vivekananda Reddy.

Therefore, they along with T Gangi Reddy, a long-time associate of Vivekananda, allegedly sabotaged the MLC elections and ensured his defeat. Gangi Reddy shares a bitter experience in the settlement of the disputed property in Bangalore, Karnataka.

Vivekananda Reddy later found the ill-intent and schooled all the leaders.

Despite the defeat in the MLC election in 2017, Vivekananda Reddy was active during the Lok Sabha Elections 2019, scheduled to be held in April, with nominations for the candidacy to be filed in March.

Since Vivekananda Reddy had developed an enmity with Siva Shankar Reddy, Bhaskar Reddy, and Avinash Reddy, he wanted the MP ticket from Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency to be given to himself or Sharmila or Vijayamma instead of Avinash Reddy.

Accordingly, Vivekananda Reddy convinced Sharmila to contest from Kadapa.

Sharmila is the secret witness here who reportedly gave a statement that her uncle, two months before his death, convinced her to contest from Kadapa.

CBI investigation further revealed that the political move of Vivekananda Reddy was a hindrance in the upcoming elections for Avinash Reddy as he was being proposed to contest as an MLA candidate instead of MP from Kadapa.

Therefore, the CBI claims that, in order to thwart the plan of Vivekananda Reddy, a criminal conspiracy was hatched with the help of T Gangi Reddy, Siva Shankar Reddy, Yadati Sunil Yadav, Gajjala Uma Shankar Reddy, Gajjala Uday Kumar Reddy, and Shaik Dasthagiri, who also had developed grudges on different accounts with Vivekananda Reddy.