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Andhra Pradesh Assembly polls 2024 | Kadapa's bitter legacy war

At the loggerhead are the children of former chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, popularly known as YSR; his son, the current chief minister, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy; and his daughter, YS Sharmila, who had recently taken up the reigns of the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh as its PCC chief.
Last Updated : 13 May 2024, 02:33 IST
Last Updated : 13 May 2024, 02:33 IST

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Pulivendula/Kadapa: As one enters the seven roads junction in Kadapa, political discussions in every corner revolve around chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and his sister state PCC chief Y S Sharmila, indicating that a bitter legacy war had spiced up the poll atmosphere in Kadapa, one of the important districts in Rayalaseema region known for its violent factional feuds and also 'Karam Dosa'.

At the loggerhead are the children of former chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, popularly known as YSR; his son, the current chief minister, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy; and his daughter, YS Sharmila, who had recently taken up the reigns of the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh as its PCC chief.

Fifteen years after Dr YSR's death in a helicopter crash in September 2009, both his children are contesting the polls from two different parties. While both disagree that it's a legacy war, Jagan, who established his own party, the YSRCP, which won the people's mandate unanimously in 2019, is looking for a second term and contesting from the YS family's pocket borough the Pulivendula Assembly segment.

Sharmila, who had a failed experiment in Telangana politics, folded up her party, YSRTP, in the neighbouring state and joined Congress to lead the party in Andhra Pradesh. She is now contesting from the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat. She is facing the incumbent YSRCP MP, YS Avinash Reddy. Should she emerge victorious, it would set a precedent as the first woman MP from Kadapa, previously represented by her father, YSR, in the Lok Sabha.

“Its unfortunate that both the siblings are washing their dirty lenin out in open bringing disrepute to DR YSR's name and popularity, who always maintained a clean image despite coming with the background of factional politics,” said Jeevanand Reddy in Pulivendula while interacting with DH.

Divided family

The close-knit YS family has witnessed a split in the 2024 polls. Jagan and Sharmila's mother, YS Vijayalakshmi, is probably unable to pick which side she has to take, so she has decided to stay away. In the 2019 polls, the entire YS family put on a joint show. Vijayalakshmi, Sharmila, and Jagan's wife, YS Bharati Reddy, all fiercely supported Jagan's YSRCP. Sharmila's 'Bye Bye Babu' campaign proved successful and provided a significant boost to the YSRCP's overall campaign, enabling the party to defeat the TDP and secure a historic and landslide victory in the 2019 simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Now that Vijayalaksmi has been totally absent from the poll scene, Sharmila now calls his brother Jagan a failure as chief minister and is campaigning against him and her election for Kadapa Lok Sabha. In Pulivendula, Bharati Reddy and other family members were seen campaigning for Jagan. Vijayalakshi had released a 43 second video clip urging voters in Kadapa Lok Sabha to Sharmila in the last minute one and hour before the campaign ended. “They should have sorted their differences among themselves privately," said a tea seller in Pulivendula. Shyamala told DH.

Uncle's murder to the fore

The murder of DR YSR's younger brother, former minister YS Vivekananda Reddy, also known as Viveka, just before the 2019 polls at his Pulivendula home had again come to the fore in the 2024 polls. In the run-up to the 2019 elections, the entire Jagan family, including Sharmila and Viveka's daughter, Dr. Narreddy Sunitha Reddy, pointed fingers at TDP leaders for the brutal murder of Viveka. Sharmila had openly stated that she was running for justice in the murder of her uncle Viveka in 2024. Sharmila criticizes Jagan for fielding Avinash, who the CBI has named as an accused in the Viveka murder case. Jagan's cousin, Dr Sunitha, has been openly claiming that he has been shielding Avinash and his father, YS Bhaskar Reddy, another accused in the case. Both Sharmila and Dr Sunitha led an emotional yet fierce campaign for justice, facing attacks from the troll brigade.

Several factors are at play.

Political pundits say several factors are at play in the Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency, which has over 16 lakh voters across seven assembly segments, which can influence the outcome of the upcoming elections.

“In the 2019 elections, a significant portion of Muslim and Christian minorities supported Avinash Reddy, who secured nearly eight lakh votes. However, we expect these minorities, who make up at least one-third of the total voters, to support Sharmila and the Congress in this election. Divisive politics by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP, and the relationships of both Chandrababu Naidu and Jagan with the ruling party will sway minority voters towards Sharmila. The support of Rahul Gandhi, whom minorities trust, could further bolster her campaign. Sharmila is likely to secure close to four lakh votes out of the over five lakh votes from these communities,” a political analyst told DH.

The analyst further explained that despite India's patriarchal norms, Sharmila has been challenging the status quo with sheer determination. Her relentless efforts have convinced supporters of YSR to split their votes between her and her brother. “We expect many families in the constituency to support Sharmila for parliament, irrespective of their preference for the state assembly. Interestingly, we project Sharmila and her brother Jagan to divide the votes in the Pulivendula Assembly segment, their family's stronghold," the analyst added,

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Published 13 May 2024, 02:33 IST

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