In Andhra, Congress' bid to claim YSR legacy - Hindustan Times
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In Andhra, Congress' bid to claim YSR legacy

ByHT Editorial
Jan 18, 2024 02:03 AM IST

In a state where community loyalties are central to the vote base of parties, the Congress may have to win back the powerful Reddy vote to stay in the fight.

The Congress has come full circle in Andhra Pradesh (AP) with the appointment of YS Sharmila as its state unit head. Once a party stronghold, the Congress was wiped out from the state in the perfect storm that emerged in the wake of the death of its twice chief minister and Sharmila’s father, YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), in 2009. The Congress, blamed for the bifurcation of the state in 2014, could not fight the blowback. Later. Reddy’s son, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, walked away with the party organisation and support base. He has been the CM since 2019. Since 2014, the Congress has not had an MP or an MLA from AP. With the induction of Sharmila, an untested organiser and orator, the Congress hopes to reclaim some of its lost ground in the state. YSR’s legacy is alive in the state and Sharmila as party chief may help the Congress to connect with his memory, goes the thinking.

Sharmila, the founder of YSR Telangana Party, had announced the merger of her party with the Congress. (Y S Sharmila) PREMIUM
Sharmila, the founder of YSR Telangana Party, had announced the merger of her party with the Congress. (Y S Sharmila)

Assembly elections in AP overlap with the general elections. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the principal Opposition party, has been on the back foot since the arrest of former CM, Chandrababu Naidu, for alleged corruption and the Jana Sena Party of actor Pawan Kalyan is yet to find its feet. The Bharatiya Janata Party is not a player in the state – yet. The YSR Congress seems to sense anti-incumbency and has indicated to many MPs and MLAs that they will be replaced. Mostly YSR loyalists, some of them may return to the Congress and provide a now non-existent local leadership for the party. But in a state where community loyalties are central to the vote base of parties, the Congress may have to win back the powerful Reddy vote to stay in the fight. It promises to be interesting.

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