Will she or won’t she? That is the question. And the answer may come by the end of the week.
After her breakfast meeting with Congress top brass Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in Delhi recently, YSRTP chief YS Sharmila has been grappling with the Hamletian dilemma of whether to merge her party in the Congress or go it alone in the upcoming elections to the Telangana Assembly.
The YSRTP chief said on Monday, 25 September: “I will take a decision by 30 September on merger of the party in the Congress. If merger is not possible, the YSRTP will contest all the 119 Assembly seats (in Telangana).”
Sharmila made the comments after discussing the issue at the party’s executive meeting which was attended by important leaders from all the 33 districts in the state at her Lotus Pond residence in Hyderabad.
Sharmila is understood to have discussed with party leaders the way forward for the YSRTP ahead of the Assembly elections.
“The party is ready to contest all the constituencies in the state. It is preparing a plan of action which will be implemented from the second week of October. All those who had worked for the party would be given the importance that they deserve,” she said.
Meeting in Delhi
Recently, ahead of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Hyderabad, Sharmila met Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in Delhi and later said that she discussed with them issues related to Telangana.
She had said that her work would be in the nature of helping the people of Telangana oust the ruling BRS, and that the countdown for Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly called KCR, had begun.
She recalled Sonia and Rahul Gandhi telling her that they had a lot of respect for her father, the late YS Rajasekhar Reddy, the former chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh. Her talks with them were held in a spirit of camaraderie, she claimed.
Sharmila’s assertion that she was ready to go it alone in Telangana appears to be an indication that the Congress is not ready to use her in Telangana because of her strong Andhra credentials.
No Telangana, only Andhra
In fact, Telangana state Congress president A Revanth Reddy had said in the past that she was welcome to join the grand old party but felt that she should operate in Andhra Pradesh and not in Telangana.
He expressed the fear that if she begins campaigning in Telangana, it would be like handing a political weapon to BRS supremo KCR, who is at present struggling with a heavy load of anti-incumbency on his shoulders.
But the actual reason why Revanth Reddy is opposed to Sharmila’s entry into Telangana Congress, according to party sources South First spoke to, is that she could soon become another power centre in the party because of her father’s legacy.
It is more than likely that as the daughter of YSR, she would begin throwing her weight around in the Congress and she might even become a rallying point for anti-Revanth forces who are looking for someone to deal with him.
There are already murmurs in the Congress that Revanth Reddy has stood like a wall between her and Telangana Congress. Sources also recall the speed with which he had acted in neutralising the influence Sharmila may have had on the party with her plan to operate in Telangana.
He had called on Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar and put forth his view on how much of a liability she would become for the Congress in case she is allowed to operate in Telangana.
But Sharmila is keen on merging her party in the Congress and operate in Telangana.
She appeared not very interested in challenging her brother and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and his YSRCP, though the Congress brass wants her to operate in the state and dilute the YSR legacy which Jagan has appropriated to himself.
The party leadership feels that she is the right candidate to build the party from the grassroots in Andhra Pradesh as she is also from the same family as Jagan Mohan Reddy.
However, the Congress is practically a dead horse in Andhra Pradesh since the bifurcation of the state, which the people blame the grand old party for. And she is well aware that no amount of flogging is likely to revive it in the short or even medium term.