What are the chances of success of YSR’s daughter, AP chief minister Jaganmohan Reddy’s sister Sharmila’s proposed political party in Telangana?
Though the idea of her party is yet to take a definitive shape, it has triggered a curious debate among political circles.
Since she hails from a political family with enormous clout from Andhra Pradesh, Sharmila’s moves are being scrutinized from all directions.
Her caste, Reddy, an influential land-owning community in Telangana, has also added an element of credibility to the idea of a political party.
This development has given rise to a question that what could be the success rate of her party if it is allowed to become a reality.
In India, no woman has so far launched a new political party. They have become leaders in the existing political parties. Though a few women are leading separate political parties they are mostly split-away factions of the parent organizations.
A woman launching a political outfit is altogether a new development. If Sharmila were to launch a political party, she would become the first woman founder president of a political party in India, a great achievement indeed.
The political influence she commands, the money power she wields, and her caste background are bound to rekindle hopes of political participation among the economically privileged sections across all castes in the Telangana society.
A backward caste political leader, who heads a party in Telangana, expressed apprehension that privileged sections of lower castes are likely to gravitate towards Sharmila’s party as it is bound to provide new opportunities for political empowerment.
The political space available in the existing political parties to the aspirational middle class is not commensurate with the growing democratic upsurge among these sections. So, they are waiting for the arrival of a new political party, he said.
Telangana, which witnessed rapid economic development in the recent past, has been the stage for several socio-political movements in the past two decades.
Leaders like R Krishnaiah, Manda Krishna Madiga, etc are responsible for unprecedented social and political mobilizations among OBC and Dalits respectively.
The Telangana movement that followed these mobilizations has politicized the society to the levels unknown in the history of Telugu states.
Every social group expected political participation in one form or the other in the new state. The disappearance of TDP which once had a reasonable base among these sections has also contributed to the expansion of these forces.
The mobilization of Telangana backward castes and Dalits has not followed the pattern of Bihar and UP where these forces have been harnessed by political parties such as SP, BSP, and RJD.
The political aspirations of these marginalized sections found expression in these parties in North India.
Though the participatory base has been expanding among these OBCs and Dalits of Telangana, curiously this has not led to the emergence of regional social justice parties on the lines of BSP, SP, and RJD.
The number of lower caste aspirants vying to enter the electoral politics in the region is so high that Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), the party largely responsible for separate state movement, is finding it difficult to accommodate them to their satisfaction.
Congress is in bad shape to meet their demand. The party floated by Professor Kodandaram is a non-starter. Jagan’s YSRC has been maintaining a respectable distance from Telangana. Janasena is not in the reckoning of the Telangana people. North Indian Social justice parties have never been owned up by Telugu people. The only available option for this new middle class is BJP.
Emboldened by the electoral gains in Dubbaka and GHMC, the Saffron party is presenting itself as a viable alternative to the TRS. The emergent middle class, which is more aspirational than ideological, has no qualms to align with BJP.
This is the background against which Sharmila is all set to take the plunge, and her leadership and the secular space her party expected to offer might look more bankable than that of Hindutva BJP for lower castes and Muslims.
The chance of Sharmila’s party emerging as a force in Telangana cannot be ruled out.
(This story first appeared in Newsmeter. in)