Hyderabad: Jailed Member of Parliament Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s mother Vijayamma and sister Sharmila have taken by storm the by-elections scene in Andhra Pradesh.
They drew huge crowds Thursday, the second day of their campaigning, in north coastal Andhra.
Campaigning in the absence of Jagan, who was sent to jail May 28 in a disproportionate assets case, the mother-daughter duo has proved to be a big hit with the people who are turning out in large numbers to hear them speak.
After launching the campaign in Narsannepta assembly constituency in Srikakulam district Wednesday, Vijayamma and Sharmila Thursday addressed meetings in Payakaropeta in Visakhapatnam district and in Ramchandrapuram in East Godavari district.
Braving intense heat, hundreds stood along the roads and on rooftops to hear Vijayamma, the honorary president of YSR Congress Party, speak.
Raking up memories of late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and alleging that Jagan was a victim of political vendetta, they went all out to arouse public sympathy.
The ruling Congress party and main opposition party Telugu Desam Party (TDP), who were hoping to take advantage of Jagan’s absence from the poll scene, are rattled by the massive public response to YSR Party’s meetings.
Vijayamma is also mounting an attack on the Congress at every meeting by voicing her doubts over the helicopter crash that killed her state chief minister husband in 2009.
She wants to continue what Jagan has been doing for over two years — to keep Reddy’s memories alive among the people.
Vijayamma, who was only a housewife when her husband was active in politics, is reminding people of the pro-poor schemes launched by him between 2004 and 2009 and appealing them to bring back a similar rule in the state by supporting YSR Congress Party.
By-elections to Nellore Lok Sabha and 18 assembly seats in the state are scheduled June 12.
Despite their political inexperience, the mother-daughter duo are doing their best to draw political mileage from Jagan’s arrest.
At every meeting, they are telling people that Jagan had been arrested to deliberately keep him away from the campaigning.
Sharmila, who unlike her mother speaks fluently, has managed to strike an instant chord with the people. The wife of evangelist Anil Kumar is the centre of attraction at the election meetings.
“I’m Rajanna’s (Y.S.R Reddy’s) daughter, Jagan’s sister Sharmila,” is how the young woman begins her speech.
“Me and my mother have come here to tell you about the injustice being meted out to Rajanna’s family,” she said at a meeting amid cheers from the crowd.
She asks if sending a gentleman to jail and crashing a helicopter is good politics.
She is also accusing Congress and TDP of joining hands to target Y.S.R. Reddy’s family.
Vijayamma, who is also a member of state assembly, is trying to give a new twist to helicopter crash by alleging that a helicopter which was not used for three months flew her husband Sep 2, 2009.
The Congress, however, is condemning her attempts to politicise the crash.
“It is unfortunate that she is making baseless allegations to drive political mileage from the tragedy,” said Congress leader G. Venkatramna Reddy.
Former president of state unit of Congress party D. Srinivas said since Vijayamma was campaigning for the first time, people were coming to see and hear her.
He did not agree that the huge turnout at the meetings meant people were supporting YSR Congress Party.