A yatra sans politics
Sharmila is on a political mission to resurrect the legacy of her father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in Telangana State. Obnoxiously, the mission is called
Sharmila is on a political mission to resurrect the legacy of her father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy in Telangana State. Obnoxiously, the mission is called ‘Paramarsha’ (to console those who claim to have lost their dear ones following the death of YS Rajasekhar Reddy). This in itself shows a lack of political sagacity. An opposition party should undertake a political yatra to mobilise the people disgruntled with the government policies. But, Sharmila’s yatra lacks any political content thus condemning it into a political non-event. Precisely this is the reason for the yatra failing to invite any significant reaction from the party’s political adversaries. The YSR Congress Party leader may face only sporadic protests during her tour of Telangana that started from Mahabubnagar district on December 8.
Political circles call it a political yatra to kick-start YSR Congress Party in Telangana after the bifurcation. Party president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy appointed Sharmila in-charge of Telangana affairs. It may be recalled that Telangana activists, especially TRS cadre, used to protest when the leaders of either TDP or YSRCP toured Telangana calling them Andhra leaders. Thus, the TRS response to Sharmila’s tour of Telangana becomes an aspect of intense political observation.
Party sources reveal that there are no instructions from the TRS headquarters in Hyderabad. A call to obstruct Sharmila is thus unlikely. The lukewarm response of TRS and Telangana loyalists to Sharmila tour itself reveals the political irrelevance of her tour in the present day Telangana State politics.
There are many reasons for the present state of affairs. Y S Rajasekhar Reddy had a strong political and popular base in Telangana too. This is evident from the fact that he produced handsome returns for the party in Telangana region in 2009 despite facing a formidable opposition in the form of Maha Kootami, comprising of TDP, TRS and the Left. The TRS had to contend with only ten seats. This success comes in the backdrop of YSR being portrayed as the only hurdle for the formation of separate state of Telangana. The populist agenda of Rajasekhara Reddy had its impact in Telangana and Andhra alike in the 2009 polls.
However, the situation completely changed later. YSR’s death created a wave of political sympathy for his son Jaganmohan Reddy. But, the powerful separate Telangana sentiment prevailed over the YSR sentiment. Later, the post-bifurcation anxieties created new political idiom, which catapulted N Chandrababu Naidu to power.
The YSR sentiment failed to beat the anti-bifurcation sentiment and post-bifurcation anxieties. Chandrababu Naidu successfully authored and exploited the capital sentiment while effectively using Modi sentiment. But, Jaganmohan Reddy depended only on the sympathy factor. This strategy proved to be a waterloo for Jaganmohan Reddy. Naidu is successfully fuelling the capital and post-bifurcation AP sentiment even today, while Jaganmohan Reddy remains clueless on the course ahead for him and his party.
If this is the state-of-affairs for Jaganmohan Reddy in residuary Andhra Pradesh, one can easily predict the party’s fate in Telangana.
The YSRCP is yet to invent a political space for itself in the new state of Telangana. The party moved from equidistance to united State slogan in the wake of Centre deciding to divide the State.
Perhaps with the insider information, the party was the first to affect such a volte-face. This shift has decimated the party in Telangana except for Khammam district. Due to its proximity with Andhra region, district presented a different political situation. On the other hand, YSR Congress Party had also benefitted from its alliance with the CPI (M), though it was confined to Khammam only. But, now, no such bonds exist between the YSRCP and the Left. The Party is struggling to keep its flock together and protect the party Legislators from getting poached by TRS.
The YSR Congress is also unable to formulate its approach to TRS government. It is neither a friend nor a foe to the TRS. Jaganmohan Reddy is the opposition leader in Andhra Pradesh Assembly. The two Telugu states are locked in many sentimental disputes. Jaganmohan Reddy is obviously defending the AP stand. This is evident from his support to Polavaram, which submerges large parts of Khammam district that gave him significant political victories. This shows Jagan’s political priorities. Given such priorities, it is hard to penetrate into Telangana even by presenting Sharmila or someone else.
The party hopes to rally Reddy community that largely supported them in Seemandhra. This politically powerful community is obviously aggrieved at the change of politics in Telangana. But, given the structural weaknesses, it is difficult for the YSR Congress to bring around the community, which understands politics much better than anyone else. Thus, the new found enthusiasm in YSR Congress Party in the form of Sharmila’s yatra is more an attempt to keep the party afloat rather than any serious attempt to resurrect the party.