YS Sharmila calls on Rahul, Sonia; has deal to merge YSRTP with Congress been sealed?

Though the outcome of her meeting was not clear, it was obvious that she took with her the proposal for the merger of her party.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Aug 31, 2023 | 2:59 PMUpdatedAug 31, 2023 | 2:59 PM

YS Sharmila speaking with reporters after meeting Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

The delicate and prolonged negotiations between YSRTP president YS Sharmila and the Congress, on the merger of her party into the grand old party, seems to be coming to an end.

Sharmila met senior Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, 31 August, before the latter left for Mumbai to attend the third two-day meeting of the 26-party INDIA coalition.

After her meeting with the two leaders, Sharmila said: “I have discussed several issues with both of them. As the daughter of the YS Rajasekhara Reddy, I will continue to work for the good of the people of Telangana. I can only say (at this juncture) that the countdown for KCR has begun.”

Though the outcome of her meeting with Sonia and Rahul on Thursday remains unclear, it was obvious that she took with her the proposal for the merger of her party.

When she met some important leaders of the party in Delhi earlier this month, she was offered a Rajya Sabha berth in return for merging her party in the Congress — and for not dabbling in Telangana politics or contesting in the year-end Assembly elections.

Related: Sharmila set to merge YSRTP with Congress in first week of September

To merge YSRTP with Congress?

It was also given to understand that she would be merging her party in the presence of Rahul Gandhi either in Hyderabad or Delhi in the first week of September.

When she was recently found emerging from Hyderabad airport along with Congress MP Komatireddy Venkata Reddy, after arriving together from Delhi by the same flight, speculation was rife that she had sealed the deal with the party’s high command.

Though Sharmila acted cagey about her Delhi visit, Venkata Reddy dropped enough hints that she would be merging the YSRTP with the Congress.

He had said that there was nothing wrong with Sharmila joining the party though he did not know the outcome of her visit to Delhi.

Her entry into the party would surely strengthen its position, he said, as she would be able to get votes as she is the heir to her father, late YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s legacy, which the people of Telangana had not forgotten.

For quite some time now, Sharmila has been dropping subtle hints that she was game for merger or alliance with the party provided the grand old party would field her and her supporters in the Telangana Assembly elections or allot a considerable number of seats for her party in case of an alliance with it.

Related: Sharmila’s plans to align with Congress met with opposition from mother?

Congress move to expand in AP

But the Congress believes that it makes sense if she takes up the cause of the party in Andhra Pradesh, where it has no leader. In fact, the party is in a moribund state with no one even acknowledging its presence in the political landscape.

Though the Congress has no hope of making any impact in Andhra Pradesh politics now, as the daughter of late YSR, she could still draw water in the state and lay the road for better days in the future.

The party wanted her to be in Andhra Pradesh and take on her brother and Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. The Congress believed Sharmila was best placed to challenge Jagan as she is as much heir to YSR’s legacy as he is.

However, Sharmila, who started her party in Telangana on 8 July, 2021, coinciding with her father’s birth anniversary, has often said she wanted to fight against the injustice being meted out to the people in Telangana whom her father and former chief minister of erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh had treated with affection.

Though it had been said that she shifted to Telangana and started her party following differences with her brother in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, she rarely mentions her brother’s name in media interactions or finds fault with him on any count.

Related: Section of Congress sees ‘value’ in YSRTP chief YS Sharmila — but in AP

Disproval of anti-Telangana stand of YSR

According to sources, Sharmila, who wanted to restore “Rajanna Rajyam” in Telangana, has been swimming across the strong currents of opposition to her activities in Telangana.

Though Rajasekhara Reddy has admirers in almost all districts in Telangana, they still continue to see him as one who assiduously fought against the formation of the Telangana state. They love him and at the same time do not approve of his anti-Telangana stand.

Ever since she set up her party, the BRS, which rode to power in 2014 on the crest of the separate Telangana movement, continues to call the shots in the state even won a second term.

In these circumstances, Sharmila has found the going tough with the ruling BRS, which always pounced on her, creating obstacles for her to stage protests.

Also read: Sharmila held during padayatra for making comments on BRS MLA

Question of Telangana origin

The BRS always dubbed her as anti-Telangana and questioned the bonafides of her Telangana origin.

She often says that she is the daughter of Hyderabad and daughter-in-law of Hyderabad as she and her husband Anil Kumar were born in the city.

Since Sharmila’s roots are in Andhra Pradesh, the state Congress leaders, especially TPCC president A Revanth Reddy, were firmly opposed to her contesting in Telangana.

Several Telangana leaders recalled how the Congress party’s prospects of grabbing power in 2018 were dashed by its alliance with TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu.

In 2018, BRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, who was struggling to connect with the people with his welfare schemes, heaved a sigh of relief when Naidu entered the scene jointly with the Congress.

KCR quickly resurrected the spirit of the Telangana movement and won the election.