With YS Sharmila’s induction into the Congress on 4 January, party eyes potential revival in Andhra

As many as 10 YSRCP MLAs and former MLAs are in touch with the Congress leadership and will likely join the party after Sharmila’s induction.

ByBhaskar Basava

Published Jan 01, 2024 | 9:25 PMUpdatedJan 01, 2024 | 10:01 PM

YS Sharmila met Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at Janpath, Delhi, in September. (Supplied)

With just 100 days to go before the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress is set to welcome YS Sharmila Reddy — the daughter of two-time chief minister in united Andhra Pradesh and Congress leader late YS Rajasekhara Reddy — as she is likely to be inducted into the grand old party on Thursday, 4 January.

Sharmila is also the sister of incumbent Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and YSRCP Chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

South First had previously reported that the Congress saw value in YS Sharmila but not in Telangana, where she wanted to build her political capital, but in Andhra Pradesh.

Further, according to party sources, as many as 10 YSRCP MLAs and former MLAs are in touch with the Congress leadership and will join the party after Sharmila’s induction.

During South First‘s ground visit to the Congress office in Andhra Pradesh, much was observed about the decade-long quest for revival and the hopes of the cadres in and around the office. Once bustling with political affairs, the party office lost its charm after the 2014 Andhra Pradesh elections.

Now, with YS Sharmila set to join the Congress, the mood within the party is significantly elevated and worthy of attention.

Also Read: Andhra CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is heading to polls as lone ranger

Losing once-steady ground

The Congress, which has been in the dark for over a decade in Andhra Pradesh, is now in the spotlight after winning in the neighbouring Karnataka and Telangana Assembly elections.

Previous political decisions made in Delhi for Andhra Pradesh cost the Congress dearly, pushing it to the back row for over a decade.

Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR) brought the party to power for the second time with 156 seats out of 294 in the 2009 Assembly elections. But the Congress’ legacy began crumbling after his sudden death in a helicopter crash in September 2009. This is where the aspirations of senior leaders to replace YSR emerged.

To the surprise of many, his son YS Jagan Mohan, the present Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, emerged from his father’s shadow, fighting for political legitimacy.

Frustrated with being overlooked by the Congress leadership, Jagan Mohan eventually founded the YSRCP in 2011, promising a better future for Andhra Pradesh with his father’s legacy in tow.

Sonia Gandhi in Hyderabad after YSR’s demise, alongside Rahul Gandhi and Jagan Mohan. (Wikimedia)

Due to political decisions or perhaps the course of law, Jagan Mohan was arrested in May 2012 on charges of amassing wealth and assets through illegal means during his late father’s tenure as the chief minister. After spending 16 months in jail, he was later released on bail.

During this time, the public’s attention was captivated as his mother, YS Vijayamma, and sister, YS Sharmila, who campaigned on the streets, accusing the Congress of vendetta politics against their beloved late chief minister’s family.

While many leaders within the Congress believed that the public viewed Jagan with sympathy for YSR, the party took a controversial decision by favouring the bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh, creating Telangana. This move was considered a blow for Congress in Andhra Pradesh, as the public opposed the bifurcation, unwilling to part with the capital ,Hyderabad.

Except for the cadre in some areas, the party’s key members joined the YSRCP before the 2014 polls, leading to the Congress losing ground to the YSRCP. Many chose to join the YSRCP due to the local political equation, where leaders couldn’t join the TDP as they had been fighting against it locally for years.

Since the 2014 elections, the Congress in Andhra Pradesh has witnessed poor performance, securing zero seats with 2.8 percent of votes in 2014 and only 1.2 percent of votes in 2019, which was less than the number of votes polled for NOTA.

Also Read: The fall and rise of Jagan Mohan Reddy

Sense of revival

However, now with a victorious stint in the Telangana elections and Sharmila’s confirmed entry into the grand old party, there has been a surge in cadre inflow to the party office.

“For the past ten years, the party has faced electoral setbacks and has been sidelined from the mainstream over the labelling of doing injustice to the state because of bifurcation. But now, with no one doing justice, people are looking towards the Congress,” a senior volunteer of the Congress, Ganesh Babu Kudithipudi told South First.

Celebrations by Congress in Vijayawada on victory in Telangana Assembly elections. (Supplied)

Celebrations by the Congress in Vijayawada, AP, following the party’s victory in Telangana. (Supplied)

Several other cadre members gathered at the party office echoed his sentiments. They said, “YS Jagan’s YSRCP had taken the limelight away from the Congress, with people even believing the YSRCP as the Congress. However, with recent victories in Karnataka and Telangana, the spotlight is back on the Congress symbol — the Hand — making people realise the difference between the original and a plagiarised one.”

Another party leader, Vintha Sanjeeva Reddy, a third-generation leader working for the Congress for the past 55 years with a close association with YSR, expressed happiness at seeing more people talking about the Congress after a long time. He sees this as a positive development for the party.

“Many discontent leaders from YSRCP, unhappy with Jagan Mohan Reddy and unable to join the TDP due to local political equations, express a desire to return to the Congress. There is anticipation of a ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (homecoming) of some leaders to the party,” Sanjeeva Reddy said.

Ganesh Babu emphasised that Jagan Mohan is leading the party with the legacy of both the Congress and his father. He added that the party is confident of reclaiming the YSR legacy with Sharmila’s induction into the party.

To be noted, in Jagan Mohan’s current Cabinet, as many as 18 out of 25 ministers hail from a Congress background, ranging from student leaders to former ministers.

Also Read: Eyes on Andhra poll, Congress asks ex-leaders to return ‘home’


Earlier in the day, Andhra Pradesh Congress chief Gidugu Rudra Raju, speaking on the buzz surrounding YS Sharmila’s potential entry into the Congress, told South First, “As per the information available to me, YS Sharmila will be joining the Congress soon, and I welcome her.”

He added, “Not only YS Sharmila but also around a dozen MLAs, who left the party during in 2014 and are currently with the YSRCP, are in touch with the Congress.”

Further expressing confidence in the Congress’ return to the mainstream, told South First, “Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Vadra, and INC president Mallikarjun Kharge will participate in public meetings against the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam steel plant, Amaravati as the single capital, and for special status.”

Raju added that the dates will be finalised in the meeting on 4 January with all the PCCs in Delhi.

YS Sharmila joined YS Jagan and wished for his Padayatra in 2017. (Supplied)

In 2017, YS Sharmila joined YS Jagan and wished him for his padayatra. (Supplied)

When asked about alliances with the TDP, he commented, “The Congress currently looks to accommodate INDIA alliance partners in the state. If there is any party ready to join the INDIA alliance to dethrone the BJP, we welcome them. However, for now, there are no such talks and the top leaders will take a call if anyone expresses interest.”

Speaking on the cadre activation, Congress working president Padmasree Sunkara said, “There would be a meeting on 8 January with all mandal-level and zilla-level leaders, with newly-appointed in-charge Manickam Tagore to reignite the spirit and confidence of the cadre. We are expecting the enthusiasm to double.”

Further, other leaders within the party office in Vijayawada are now happy to re-enter the mainstream after a long wait. They believe that this enthusiasm will further increase with Sharmila’s induction into the Congress, as many leaders discontent with Jagan Mohan are reportedly in touch with Sharmila to change loyalties before the Andhra Pradesh elections.

However, sources from the YSRCP shared that close aides and YSR loyalists had even negotiated between the brother and sister duo to avoid direct conflict in the state, with even an offer to join the YSRCP but not the Congress.

With reports of a fallout between the duo after the 2019 elections, the offer, now in the context of Sharmila joining the Congress, appears to have left her unimpressed.

YS Sharmila’s decision to join the grand old party ahead of the Andhra polls will not only shape her political future but also have significant implications for her brother’s party, for which she campaigned for a decade, and also her father’s party, which is seeking her leadership to spearhead its revival.