Andhra Pradesh elections shake up political families, cause estrangement

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YS Jagan Mohan Reddy YS Sharmila Chandrababu Naidu

(L-R) Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, Y S Sharmila and N Chandrababu Naidu

Amaravati: Besides leaving a trail of violence at a number of places, the fiercely fought simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh has shaken up a string of political families resulting in discord and estrangement. Siblings took on each other, a son contested against his minister-father while a determined wife was cajoled to stop competing against her husband at the last moment, among others.

In this battle of blood relatives, YSRCP chief and outgoing Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy faced a real challenge from his sister, Andhra Pradesh Congress chief Y S Sharmila who emerged as a 'thorn in the flesh' for him. After experimenting with politics in Telangana through the YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) and merging it with Congress, Sharmila took over the reins of the grand old party in Andhra Pradesh to target her brother on a daily basis, accompanied several times by her cousin Suneetha Narreddy.

"Jagan is not the successor of YSR (Y S Rajasekhar Reddy) at all. There is no similarity between the regimes led by YSR and Jagan…Jagan’s reign is marked by murderous politics," said Sharmila at Mydukuru in Kadapa district on April 8.

As Congress candidate for Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency, Sharmila took on her cousin Y S Avinash Reddy from YSRCP, who is an accused in the Vivekananda Reddy’s murder case. Though she lost, Sharmila, garnered more than 1.4 lakh votes and managed to inflict electoral damage on Avinash Reddy, who won by a margin of 62,695 votes.

Avinash Reddy had the full backing of Jagan Mohan Reddy who said people of Kadapa ‘know who killed’ his uncle Vivekananda Reddy. A 'conspiracy' has been hatched to 'destroy' the life of Avinash Reddy and alleged that his younger sisters Sharmila and Narreddy are a 'part' of it.

Ditching Jagan Mohan Reddy backed Avinash Reddy, Y S Vijayamma, Rajasekhar Reddy’s wife and the mother of the siblings backed her daughter Sharmila, urging the Kadapa Lok Sabha electorate to vote for her daughter.

Similarly, the Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency saw a battle between brothers, K Srinivas and K Sivanath. Srinivas, a transport tycoon-turned-politician from the YSRCP took on his younger brother Sivanath from the TDP. Srinivas (58), the older brother, was a key TDP leader until some months ago but differences with party leaders compelled him to jump ship to YSRCP in January.

Eventually, his gamble didn’t pay off and Srinivas lost the battle to Sivanath, who won with a thumping margin of over 2.82 lakh votes, garnering 7,94,154 votes in total.

In north Andhra region, Duvvada Vani, wife of YSRCP’s Tekkali Assembly segment candidate Duvvada Srinivas, for several reasons, almost came close to competing against her husband. At the last moment, senior party leaders successfully persuaded her against doing it.

Likewise, B Ravi Kumar, son of YSRCP Anakapalli Lok Sabha candidate and deputy chief minister B Mutyala Naidu contested as an independent from Madugula Assembly seat against his step-sister E Anuradha and all the three family members lost their elections.

Another fallout was violence at many places that went to the extent of even ordinary people, who owed allegiance to TDP and YSRCP leaders assaulting each other in a number of places. Palnadu, Tirupati and Anantapur districts became notorious for such attacks.

Despite authorities promising protection to YSRCP supporters in the wake of alleged attacks by Janasena and TDP cadres, violent incidents have not abated. Andhra Pradesh went to polls on May 13 for 25 Lok Sabha and 175 Assembly seats. The NDA alliance of TDP, BJP and Janasena won a landslide victory with a brute majority of 164 Assembly and 21 Lok Sabha seats. YSRCP has been relegated to a seemingly inconsequential position, with just 11 Assembly and four MP seats.