In the current, turbulent environment affecting the residual Andhra Pradesh, most politicians have chosen the safe confines of Hyderabad or Delhi over their constituencies in the coastal Andhra and Rayalseema regions. That is where Sharmila Reddy, the daughter of the late Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy is attempting to make a difference. In the absence of her brother Jaganmohan Reddy, who has spent nearly fourteen months behind the bars, it is on her shoulders that the YSR Congress Party’s (YSRCP) load has been transferred. Walking amidst the masses, her ‘padyatra’ has completed over two hundred days and will come to a close on August 4.
At a historic time for the state, her words and actions are being followed with intense interest. Following are the excerpts of an interview:
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A: 70 per cent of our population is rural with agriculture as their main occupation. This coastal region, Seemandhra is at the tail end of all the rivers and when the division of the type they are proposing will take place, we fear that this area will turn into another Sahara desert. This is just one of the many issues. Similarly, we feel it is not fair to give the capital which is the economic, educational and industrial hub of this state to one state, Telangana or Andhra Pradesh. We are demanding fairness and justice.
Q: These are mere principles, what are your specific demands?
A: That Hyderabad be either declared a union territory or a joint capital. And ten years is not enough. These are just two issues that I am talking about. There are many more like revenue-sharing. Also, I would like to say that the centre has not done enough to assure that people of Andhra origin that their concerns of safety in Hyderabad in the times to come will be addressed.
Q: We are seeing that politicians especially from Congress, TDP etc are unable to come to their constituents in Seemandhra and Rayalseema whereas the same can’t be said about your party. Seems like it is a politically opportune moment.
A: We are the only party which is standing with the people, all our MLAs have resigned. Look at Congress, TDP, they are all into double games.
Q: But your critics say you are doing this because your party has no future in Telangana.
A: Not at all. This is not about electoral issues or politics. This is what my father stood for, a united, prosperous AP.
Q: Even Digvijay Singh says Congress’ decision about Telangana was not about politics.
A: (Smiles) Really? What else is this if not a quid pro quo. Congress and Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) are in a deal over Telangana. It is just so obvious. Why else was the Congress sitting over this like a lame duck for four years and has now pushed it down our throats now?
Q: There is duplicity in your party’s stand. While your father stood for a united Andhra Pradesh, your party has also spoken about acknowledging the sentiments of those in Telangana.
A: We’ve always said we honour the sentiment of Telangana. We have no objection to the split being done with fairness and justice.
Q: But again, these are principles. What can satisfy your party in accepting this division?
A: That is what we asked Congress to do and they never clarified their stand. If they would have, we would have responded. Now they have stated their stand and are pushing it down our throats. This is undemocratic. We want the Congress to have a dialogue with all the stake holders.