YSR family continues to dominate AP


If there is another leader after Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder Nandamuri Tarakarama Rao who left a profound impact on Andhra Pradesh politics, it is Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, a report by Mohammed Shafeeq

The politics of Andhra Pradesh revolves around the families of two former chief ministers, who left behind strong political legacies.

If there is another leader after Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder Nandamuri Tarakarama Rao who left a profound impact on Andhra Pradesh politics, it is Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

If legendary actor-turned-politician NTR altered the politics of combined Andhra Pradesh by floating TDP on the plank of Telugu self-respect in early 1980s, YSR emerged as one of the most popular leaders with his revolutionary welfare schemes for farmers and poor.

Such is the domination of these two families on the politics of residuary Andhra Pradesh that their members head four major parties, including the ruling and the main opposition.

While NTR’s family has been dominating Andhra politics for four decades, the family of YSR remains central to the state politics even 15 years after his death.

Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR, died in a helicopter crash on September 2, 2009, a few months after he led Congress party to power for a second consecutive term in combined Andhra Pradesh.

Popular for his pro-poor politics, YSR’s sudden death sent shock waves across. His son and Kadapa MP Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who was keen to succeed his father as the chief minister, defied Congress leadership to undertake ‘Odarpu yatra’ to console families of those who died of shock following YSR’s death.

In November 2010, Jagan Mohan Reddy along with his mother Vijayamma quit Congress, resigned as MP and MLA respectively and floated a new party — Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP).

Jagan emerged as inheritor of YSR’s political legacy as he won Kadapa Lok Sabha seat in 2011 by-election with a majority of over 5.45 lakh votes. His mother too retained Pulivendula Assembly seat with a huge majority.

In May 2012, Jagan was arrested by the CBI in a disproportionate assets case and sent to jail a few weeks before by-elections.

Though Jagan was in jail, his mother and sister Y.S. Sharmila carried the party campaign and YSRCP emerged as a key force by capturing Nellore Lok Sabha seat and 15 out of 18 Assembly seats in the bypolls.

Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 and the public anger in the residuary state wiped out Congress, and YSRCP emerged as the alternative. Though the TDP-BJP alliance came to power in 2014, Jagan’s party became a formidable force and he sustained the party banking on his father’s rich political legacy.

The big moment arrived for Jagan in 2019 as YSRCP stormed to power with a landslide majority. However, cracks appeared in the family with Jagan sidelining his sister Sharmila, who had actively campaigned for the party in 2014 and 2019 polls.

In 2021, Sharmila embarked on a new political journey by floating YSR Telangana Party to cash in on YSR legacy in Telangana. Despite her statewide padyatra and best efforts, the party failed to establish itself. Though she was ready to merge her party with the Congress ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls, the Telangana Congress leadership was not keen and advised her to lead the party in Andhra Pradesh. Stating that defeating KCR is her priority, Sharmila decided to stay away from Telangana polls to avoid a split of anti-BRS votes.

After the Congress party’s victory, Sharmila had no option but to return to Andhra Pradesh politics by joining Congress. The Gandhi family, which cleared her misunderstanding and told her that they will continue to have huge respect for YSR, succeeded in convincing her to take up the responsibility of reviving Congress in Andhra Pradesh.

Sharmila is now claiming herself to be the real successor of YSR’s political legacy. “YSR has been with Congress for his entire life. His dream was to make Rahul Gandhi the Prime Minister. I will work to fulfil his dream,” she said while targeting her brother for mortgaging the state’s interests by becoming a tool in the hands of the BJP government at the Centre.

Sharmila is likely to enter the fray from the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat, where her cousin Y.S. Avinash Reddy is seeking re-election for a third consecutive term as the YSRCP candidate.

Kadapa Lok Sabha seat has been YSR family’s pocket borough for nearly four decades. YSR was elected from here in 1989, 1991, 1996 and 1998 and when he entered Assembly in 1999, YSR’s younger brother Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy was elected from Kadapa as a Congress candidate. In 2004, Vivekananda Reddy retained the seat.

After completing first term in power, YSR brought his young son into politics. The young businessman was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kadapa in 2009. However, within a few months the situation underwent a dramatic change with YSR’s tragic death.

Pulivendula, one of the Assembly segments under Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency, has been YSR family’s stronghold for 46 years.

YSR was first elected to the Assembly from here in 1978 and he won every election from here till he moved to the Lok Sabha in 1991. He returned to Pulivendula in 1999 to challenge the TDP government headed by Chandrababu Naidu. He finally succeeded in bringing Congress to power in 2004 after his famous ‘padayatra’ across the state.

YSR’s brothers Y.S. Purushotham Reddy and Vivekananda Reddy were elected from Pulivendula in 1991 and 1994 respectively.

YSR’s wife Vijayamma was elected unopposed in 2010 by-election following his death. She later won the seat in a by-election as YSRCP candidate.

Like his father, Jagan Mohan Reddy also became chief minister while representing Pulivendula.

It remains to be seen how the battle for YSR’s political legacy unfolds when Sharmila takes on Avinash Reddy in Kadapa.

As Avinash Reddy is named as an accused by the CBI in the murder of Vivekananda Reddy, Sharmila will also have the support of Vivekananda Reddy’s daughter Sunitha Reddy, who has been fighting for justice for five years and accusing Jagan of shielding the killers of her father.

Sharmila to take on cousin in Kadapa

Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee President Y. S. Sharmila Reddy will take on her cousin and sitting MP Y. S. Avinash Reddy in Kadapa constituency.

Sharmila, sister of Chief Minister and YSR Congress Party President Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, will make her electoral debut from Kadapa, which has been the stronghold of the YSR family for nearly four decades.

Sharmila’s name figures in the list of five Lok Sabha candidates announced by the Congress party on Tuesday for Andhra Pradesh.

The fight between cousins assumes significance in view of the allegations against Avinash Reddy in the murder of their uncle and former minister Y. S. Vivekananda Reddy.

Vivekananda Reddy’s daughter Sunitha Reddy, who has been fighting for justice for the last five years, has hailed Sharmila’s candidature. While thanking Sharmila for her support, Sunitha Reddy reiterated the allegation that Jagan Mohan Reddy knows who are the killers of her father but is still shielding them.

Sunitha Reddy said since it was her father’s wish that Sharmila contest the election from Kadapa, she welcomed her candidature. She has already appealed to people not to vote for killers and also for Jagan’s party which is protecting them.

Sunitha Reddy claimed on March 1 that the CBI investigations into her father’s murder has come to a standstill as there is pressure on the investigating agency.

Former minister and former MP, Vivekananda Reddy, younger brother of former Chief Minister late Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), was murdered at his residence in Pulivendula town of Kadapa district on March 15, 2019, weeks before the elections. He was alone at his residence.

In April last year, the CBI arrested Vivekananda Reddy’s cousin Y. S. Bhaskar Reddy, father of YSRCP MP from Kadapa, Avinash Reddy.

The CBI claimed that both Avinash and Bhaskar Reddy conspired to eliminate Vivekananda Reddy because he was against fielding Avinash Reddy from Kadapa Lok Sabha seat and wanted Jagan Mohan Reddy to instead field his mother Vijayamma or sister Sharmila. However, the father-son duo denied the allegation.

Avinash Reddy was granted anticipatory bail by the Telangana High Court on May 31, 2023 but Sunitha has challenged the same in the Supreme Court.

Avinash Reddy was elected from Kadapa in 2014 and 2019 on YSRCP ticket and despite allegations against him, Jagan Mohan Reddy has again fielded him.

After joining Congress and taking over as the state party chief, Sharmila met Sunitha Reddy on January 29 and backed her fight.

Sharmila had last year said that Vivekananda Reddy was not murdered for his property as he had already written the entire property in the name of his daughter.

With Sunitha making serious allegations and Sharmila also backing her in her fight, Jagan Mohan Reddy while addressing an election rally in Kadapa district last week accused opposition parties of a role in the murder case and remarked that people should know who is behind the murder and shielding the culprits.

Jagan Mohan Reddy also stated that his sisters Sharmila and Sunitha are playing into the hands of his opponents.

YSR family has been representing Kadapa Lok Sabha since 1989 when YSR was first elected from here. He retained the seats in 1991, 1996 and 1998. When he moved to the Assembly in 1999, his brother Vivekananda Reddy was elected from Kadapa as the Congress candidate. Vivekananda Reddy retained the seat in 2004.

In 2009, YSR’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy made his electoral debut with a victory in the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat. After the death of his father and then Chief Minister YSR and subsequent developments in ruling Congress, he floated YSR Congress Party and retained the Kadapa seat with a record majority in 2011.

In 2014, Jagan started focusing on the Pulivendula Assembly seat, also a family stronghold and left the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat for cousin Avinash Reddy.

ALSO READ: ‘Myth vs Reality Register’ to combat misinformation

[mc4wp_form id=""]