HYDERABAD: YSR Congress chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy may have gone from playing badminton at Chandragul Central Jail to the CBI custody, but the women of his family are going all out to generate sympathy, and votes, for him. Mother, sister and wife -- they are all out there for Jagan as the make-or-break by-poll date of June 12 approaches.
Jagan’s mother and YSR Congress honorary president Vijaya Lakshmi -- fondly called Vijayamma -- was all set to take over the party campaign for the by-polls to 18 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in the run-up to Jagan’s arrest on May 27. And she did, smoothly.
The big surprise, however, is Sharmila, Jagan’s reclusive sister, who has joined her mother in the campaign.
Adding to this considerable women power is Jagan’s wife Bharati, who joined the hunger strike against Jagan’s arrest. Bharati was seen holding the Bible -- a trademark habit of Vijayamma who apparently never leaves home without one.
The Reddy women are drawing ecstatic responses from crowds. For them and the YSR Congress, victory in the by-polls is a crucial step towards capturing power in Andhra Pradesh.
Jagan, who had been expecting arrest, had made it clear that his mother would lead in his absence. Vijayamma is no political novice, but the surprise was the media-shy Sharmila, who launched a broadside against the CBI and the Congress, accusing them of carrying out a witch-hunt. “My brother has done no wrong. The Congress is using the CBI to settle scores with him,” Sharmila said.
YSR’s political genes are evident in Sharmila’s public appearances.
“I am Rajanna’s (YSR) daughter and Jagan’s sister Sharmila,” is how she begins her speeches.
“Me and my mother are here to tell you about the injustice being meted out to Rajanna’s family.” Sharmila was unseen in public till now. The last time she was seen with Jagan, was when he took her and their mother to Delhi after YSR died to seek Sonia Gandhi’s permission to take out the Odarpu Yatra. Sharmila is married to evangelist Anil Kumar, an orthodox Brahmin who had converted to Christianity. When YSR was alive, he promoted Kumar. This reportedly strengthened his position in the Christian community.
After Jagan’s arrest, his political managers lost no time in roping in his sister. They prepared her itinerary, in which she would take up from where Jagan had left in the by-poll campaign.