Sulking sister stymies Jagan-naut
By R Prithvi Raj | Published: 24th November 2013 07:39 AM |
A crisis seems to be brewing in the YSR Congress with Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s sister and the party’s star campaigner Sharmila fading into oblivion after her brother’s release from prison on September 24 this year.
That something is awry is hard to miss. Sharmila, who walked the rough terrain of the state for over a year to keep the party machinery running while her brother was in prison, is nowhere to be seen these days. Just before Jagan’s release, she toured Seemandhra for the second time to campaign against the state’s bifurcation. But as soon as Jagan returned, she disappeared.
When Jagan organised an extended general body meeting of his party on November 18, Sharmila skipped it.
She also gave a miss to Jagan’s most prestigious Samaikya Sankaharavam public meeting in Hyderabad on October 26. Earlier too, she was conspicuous by her absence when Jagan began his hunger strike in support of Samaikyandhra on October 5. Most importantly, immediately after his release when Jagan visited his family’s estate at Idupulapaya in Kadapa district on October 1, Sharmila was not by his side. A few days later, she went on her own to Idupuplapaya and spent time at her father’s memorial.
Sources say Sharmila, now in Bangalore, has been feeling frustrated at the way she has been sidelined ever since Jagan returned. “Jagan asked her to attend the extended general body meeting because her absence could send out a wrong signal, but a sulking Sharmila refused,” a party leader said.
But why was Sharmila given the shove? Party insiders say Jagan does not want to encourage rival power centres within the party. “He does not want anyone to emerge as a threat to his authority,” said a source.
“Sharmila showed signs of being a threat and was dumped mercilessly,” a leader privy to the goings-on in the YSR family said.
While Jagan was in jail, Sharmila was everywhere as the face of the party. Jagan feared being wiped clean from public memory.
Jagan’s absence brought out the leader in Sharmila. When he was arrested in May 2012, it was Sharmila who took up his cross and began her public meetings which drew massive crowds.
When news broke that Jagan had been granted bail, a visibly elated Sharmila said: “We are very happy. My desire is to see him as the CM of the state. Thanks to you (media), you have made me a star-campaigner.” And that was the last the media heard from her.
The seed of discord between the siblings was sown when Sharmila began eyeing the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat which Jagan represents now. As Jagan would be contesting for Assembly from Pulivendula in 2014, she wanted the Kadapa seat. But Jagan wanted his cousin Y S Avinash Reddy to contest from Kadapa. Party leader Balineni Srinivasa Reddy had then said with an air of finality, “Kadapa seat will go to Avinash Reddy only. Sharmila is free to contest from any LS seat she chooses.”
Party insiders say Jagan was annoyed that she was taking an interest in who should contest from which constituency and who should head units in districts. “With the help of her husband Bro ther Anil Kumar, she was networking politically with the Christian community, which too annoyed Jagan,” a leader said.
Party seniors, however, deny any trouble. “What everyone does not understand is that Sharmila is not interested in politics,” senior leader and former MP Bhuma Nagireddy said.