Section of Congress sees ‘value’ in YSRTP chief YS Sharmila — but in Andhra Pradesh, not Telangana

According to sources, the main purpose of her visit was to seek his help in settling her claim in the YSR family property in Bangalore.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 03, 2023 | 10:00 AMUpdatedJun 03, 2023 | 10:00 AM

YS Sharmila with DK Shivakumar. (Twitter)

YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) president YS Sharmila set the cat among the pigeons in the Telangana Congress when she called on Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar in Bengaluru on 29 May.

Though no one is speaking out openly about the meeting, there is a lurking fear in the minds of some Congress leaders that she may be seeking an alliance with the grand old party, or worse, an entry into the party — a move that might ruffle one too many feathers.

The basis of the apprehension about any alliance with her is that she would bring with her the baggage of her late father and former chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh YS Rajasekhar Reddy’s legacy of opposing the separate Telangana movement.

Congress leaders in Telangana seem divided over their assessment of YS Sharmila.

While one big section believes she doesn’t add to party’s prospects and will leave the state unit more unsettled, another believes she could not only help boost the party’s campaign in bordering districts of Telangana but come to be a key leader in Andhra Pradesh — both due to her father’s legacy.

Also read: Karnataka CM makes minor re-allocation of portfolios

Association might backfire

Some Congress leaders are also worried that the bogey of the Samaikyandhra movement — the counter-movement to keep Andhra Pradesh united — might return, allowing their bete noir and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, the spearhead of the separate state movement, to yet again seize the day.

“We have seen the disastrous consequences we suffered when we tied up with a hardcore ‘integrationist’ like former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in 2018. In fact, we had bright prospects in that election. As soon as Naidu entered the scene, KCR moved in, inflaming Telangana passions once again, which resulted in a landslide victory for him,” one Congress leader, who did not wish to be identified, told South First.

However, Sharmila’s is a Telangana party, and she has said on several occasions that she was open to working with anyone as long as the objective was to defeat KCR and his ruling BRS.

“I am ready for talks with anyone to prevent KCR from coming to power in the state,” she said recently, but did not confirm or deny aligning with the Congress.

Congress leaders point to how the call to “work together” etc are only being made by YS Sharmila and not Congress.

“In the last one year that she has attempted to leave a mark in Telangana politics, she seems to have understood that she doesn’t get as much traction as she had hoped for. Independently, she cannot win seats or even wean away big percent of the vote share. Not performing well in the upcoming Telangana polls could mean the end of her political career,” said a former AICC office bearer from Telangana on Sharmila’s posturing of cozying up to Congress.

Reason behind the visit

After the Congress won the Assembly elections in Karnataka, Sharmila visited Shivakumar and his family earlier this week.

Shivakumar is YS Rajasekhar Reddy family’s friend and mutual visits by the two families have been taking place.

According to reliable sources in the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC), the main purpose of her visit to Shivakumar was to seek his help in settling her claim on the YSR family property in Bengaluru.

As she has parted ways with her brother and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and shifted to Hyderabad, she appears determined to take the property issue to its logical conclusion with Shivakumar’s help.

She is also believed to have asked him to put in a word with party general secretary Priyanka as she is interested in working with the Congress in Telangana.

On his part, Shivakumar, a dyed-in-wool Congressman, is said to have utilised the occasion to ask her to merge her party in the Congress in Telangana.

Also read: Revanth, Bhatti, Venkat Reddy in contest for CM face in Telangana

Shivakumar’s advice

The Karnataka deputy chief minister is understood to have told her that she would not get anywhere in Telangana as essentially her party has moorings in Andhra Pradesh.

Though there might be people who still adore her father Rajasekhar Reddy, their feeling of gratitude for his daughter may not be able to override the “Telangana sentiment”.

The Karnataka PCC president is also believed to have asked her to shift to Andhra Pradesh, where the Congress has remained comatose since the bifurcation of the state in 2014, as people hold it responsible for the decision.

With no leader worth his salt in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress is more or less dysfunctional and the party’s central leadership is keen that an effort be made to infuse a new lease of life into it.

For that, the party wants her to lead APCC as there could not be a better leader than Sharmila to fight Jagan Mohan Reddy.

There has been speculation that she might even be taken into the Rajya Sabha from a state where the party has strength and be asked to lead the party in Andhra Pradesh.

Also read: Winning upcoming Assembly polls is not difficult, says Revanth

Sharmila averse to returning to AP

But sources told South First that Sharmila is averse to returning to Andhra Pradesh and fighting against her brother, for reasons unclear.

She wants to remain in Telangana and fight against KCR. The Congress wants her, but in Andhra Pradesh, and not in Telangana.

Some leaders in the Congress are, however, welcoming her into the Congress with wide open arms.

“We welcome her if she wants to join us. She would be helpful to the Congress in either of the two states or both states. If she wants to work in Telangana, it would be prudent if she does not contest the election and confine herself to campaigning to revive the memories of YSR days,” another leader told South First.

“If she contests, people may not appreciate her decision because of her family’s roots are in Andhra,” he added.

A former MP said that if Sharmila wanted to have an alliance or merge in the Congress, she was welcome.

“She has Congress DNA,” he said and dismissed as inconsequential the rumours that she was propped up by KCR to split the anti-BRS votes and if she joins the Congress, her loyalty might remain with KCR.

“Once she joins our party, she is our leader. I do not want to believe these unsubstantiated loose-cannon statements,” he said.