'I am not here for power'
Many in the rallies Y S Sharmila Reddy has been addressing across Andhra Pradesh feel that she would be a better chief ministerial candidate than her mother in case Jaganmohan Reddy is not out of jail, reports Vicky Nanjappa
'This is Rajanna's daughter,' says Y S Sharmila Reddy before she addresses every rally -- making it a point to inform the public that she is the daughter of the late Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, who died in a chopper crash in September 2009.
Fresh to politics, the 34-year-old is called the daughter of Andhra Pradesh and the lady who Andhra Pradesh loves. A mother of two, Sharmila looks confident and goes about like a seasoned politician when she is with the crowds.
While speaking to Sharmila one does not get the impression that she is new to politics. She holds no official position in YSR Congress party and has chosen to hit the roads and address herself as a mother, daughter and sister. "I am not here for power. I am just here to carry forward the message of my late father and brother, who has been unjustly put behind bars," she says. "What wrong has my brother done and what wrong has my family done to deserve this? My brother was new to politics and all he wanted to do was to carry forward the mantle of my late father who gave his entire life to the people of Andhra Pradesh," she says.
Images courtesy: Sakshi TV
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Image: Sharmila Reddy greets people on her way to address a rally
'My brother will be the next CM of Andhra Pradesh'
Sharmila's statements make it clear that she only wants to send out a message. She does not speak about the politics involving the Congress or the Telugu Desam Party or even the defections. "My father did a lot for the state and helped the Congress win the 2004 elections -- both in the state and at the centre. However, they did not care much about the sacrifice. It is now time to bring back the rule of YSR and make Jaganmohan Reddy the chief minister," she adds.
However, ever since she has hit the campaign trail there have been rumours of a split within the family. Many say since Sharmila is walking away with all the applause, Jagan has been feeling insecure, fearing she might snatch the reins of the party from him.
"Let the rumour mongers say what they have to. I am here on behalf of my brother and I am not the chief ministerial candidate when the YSR Congress wins. Wait and watch, my brother will be the next CM of Andhra Pradesh," says Sharmila with a lot of confidence. "They have arrested him, but they cannot arrest the love the people have for him," she adds.
The crowds are very pleased with her. For a newcomer in politics, she has been handling them well. Sharmila makes it a point to have one-on-one conversations with the elderly and resorts to the usual political stunts of carrying children and lending a friendly arm to the people. The masses on the other hand are eager to meet her. They come out of their homes early to get a glimpse of her. They have seen YSR several times, but now they are keen to see his daughter. Many say they are impressed and like the way she speaks.
But there are several who view the mother-daughter campaign very sympathetically. They say it is sad to see that the women of the house come out to campaign for the party.
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Image: Ever since Sharmila Reddy hit the campaign trail there have been rumours of a split within the family
'Sharmila better to listen to and more fluent than her mother'
Sharmila's core focus is to propel her brother into power and also speak against the Congress party. "We have been repaid with a CBI case," she says. "But we are ready to fight it out. Only my brother can solve the problems of these people whose condition has worsened after the death of my father. Their love for him is our real victory," she Sharmila.
While Y S Vijayamma (wife of Y S R Reddy) -- Jagan's choice for chief minister in case he is not out of jail -- is treated with respect, Sharmila generates a lot of curiosity. She in fact is more fluent than her mother. However, YSR Congress leaders like Ambati Rambabu maintain that the crowds are neither for Vijayamma or Sharmila, they are for Jagan. "The people are only expressing their solidarity as both mother and daughter despite undergoing so much have helped the people and the party," says Rambabu.
Many feel that Sharmila is better to listen to as she is more fluent and appears more confident. Vijayamma has always been shy and is viewed more sympathetically. In Sharmila they see a leader and she has very often also been called the Priyanka (Sonia Gandhi's daughter) of Andhra Pradesh, a tag she obviously hates. Many also are of the view that Sharmila would be a better chief ministerial candidate in case Jagan is not out of jail; it would be good to have a young leader.
Sharmila says it has been a lot of hard work. "We set out by 10 am and the rallies go on till late in the night. It is tiring but worth it. It is nice to be amongst the people of the state. We have decided to speak directly to the people of Andhra Pradesh. We want justice from the people. There is a long way to go but we will tour every corner of the state and seek the return of the YSR era. I see people and their suffering and only the YSR Congress party led by Jagan can understand these problems just the way my father did and solve them too," says Sharmila.
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Image: Sharmila Reddy says her rallies begin at 10 in the morning and go on till late in the night
'Talk of a rift with my brother is rubbish'
Sharmila feels that she and her mother are just holding the fort until Jagan returns. Only Jagan should be the undisputed leader of the party and they want no confusion whatsoever, party workers say.
On the most important question of whether she would replace Jagan in the party, she retorts saying that the party is her brother's and she is just holding the mantle until he comes out of jail. "Politics is and has never been my cup of tea and all this talk of a rift with my brother is rubbish and is the handiwork of those who feel threatened by the popularity of the party. All this talk will be proven wrong. Just wait till 2014, you will see my brother as the chief minister," she says.
Sharmila still has a long way to go before this yatra ends. She says she is confident of the support that she would generate across the state. "There will be hurdles but we will over come all," she points out.
Image: Sharmila has been touring the state of Andhra Pradesh campaigning for the YSR Congress party