From 'Cold' Welcome By Sonia to Grand Merger With Congress: How Sharmila Set Off To Take On Brother Jagan     

YS Sharmila, daughter of late Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Congress stalwart Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, joined the Grand Old Party by merging her YSRTP with it

YS Sharmila is Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's (R) sister

Once at the receiving end of a 'cold' welcome by the Gandhi family, Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's sister Sharmila merged her party into the Congress on Thursday, putting an end to the feud that once her brother's vowed vengeance had set off.

YS Sharmila, daughter of late Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Congress stalwart Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, joined the Grand Old Party by merging her Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Telangana Party (YSRTP) with it. 

Lauding the Congress, Sharmila said it is the largest secular party in the country as it unwaveringly serves all communities and unites all sections of people and added that she will now work to fulfil her father's dream of seeing Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Minister of the country.

With YSR Telangana Party's merger with Congress, a member of the YSR family will now directly be taking on the YSRCP-led by Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who Sharmila has accused of betraying her by not sharing power and their father’s legacy.

Who Is YS Sharmila 

YS Sharmila (50) first made headlines in 2012 when she joined her mother, YS Vijayamma, to campaign for the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in Andhra Pradesh in the absence of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who in May that year was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on embezzlement charges.

This happened when Telangana had not been carved out of Andhra Pradesh. Amid the escalating statehood movement, Sharmila's brother Jagan Mohan Reddy had broken away from the Congress and established the YSR Congress Party (YSCRP) in 2011. Joining him were 18 MLAs, and a Congress MP also resigned, triggering a series of bypolls. While Jagan Reddy was in custody due to corruption allegations in 2012, his mother YS Sharmila along with their mother YS Vijayamma spearheaded the campaign, leading the YSCRP's sweeping victory in the bypolls.

In February 2021, Sharmila said that she held political disagreements with her brother and months later announced her party.

The Reddy Family and Congress Split

In 2010, YS Vijayalakshmi, fondly called Vijayamma, the widow of the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), accompanied by her daughter YS Sharmila, reached Delhi from Hyderabad and drove straight to 10, Janpath, the official residence of then Congress president Sonia Gandhi. 

Contrary to the expectation of a cordial reception, given Dr YSR's close ties with Sonia and the late Rajiv Gandhi, YS Vijayalakshmi and daughter Sharmila received a "cold" welcome from the former Congress president after having waited for 10-15 minutes, as mentioned in a news18 report.

Following the sudden demise of his father in a helicopter accident in September 2009, Jagan Mohan Reddy commenced a tour across Andhra Pradesh to visit the houses of those who had passed away upon hearing the news. Amid this tour, Sonia Gandhi reportedly wanted to have it stopped.

Despite attempts by Jagan Reddy's mother to explain the purpose behind the “Odarpu” Yatra, Sonia Gandhi remained unmoved and even, in a meeting, asked her to stop, leaving the mother-daughter duo embarrassed. While they silently left the residence of the then Congress president and returned to Hyderabad, a pledge was taken to avenge the insult.

According to details mentioned in the news18 report, Jagan was furious upon hearing what all had happened. He made it clear to his family and inner circle that he intended to leave the Congress and establish his own party and subsequently dismantle the Congress in Andhra Pradesh.

Jagan aspiration to fill his father's shoes after his demise, or at least secure the position of state Congress president, was also met with rejection as Sonia and Rahul Gandhi's advisors discouraged any such consideration, leading to family loyalist K Rosaiah's appointment as Andhra Pradesh unit chief.

Since forming his YSRCP in 2010-11, Jagan Reddy has effectively dismantled the Congress in Andhra Pradesh, transforming it into a clash between his party and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) after the creation of Telangana. 

Sharmila's merger makes it clear she did not burn bridge while Sonia Gandhi's initial cold reception also now seems to have evolved into warmth, paving way for Congress to make use of the strained relationship between Jagan Mohan Reddy and his sister.

As Congress now looks for an opportunity for revival in Andhra Pradesh, especially after its significant victory in neighbouring Telangana in December, YS Sharmila's merger into the party is expected to play a crucial role in the elections in the Jagan-led state slated to take place this year alongside Lok Sabha polls.