YSRTP chief Sharmila announces padayatra from October 20
YSR Telangana Party president YS Sharmila on Monday announced a marathon padayatra (foot march) across Telangana from October 20, following the footsteps of late father YS Rajasekhar Reddy and brother YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who embarked on a similar journey in the past.
Sharmila, who recently formed her party, said she would walk across the state, barring the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation limits, covering 90 of the 119 assembly constituencies in over a year.
She christened her padayatra “Praja Prasthanam” (people’s journey), a name used by her father for his 1500-km long padayatra from April 9 to June 16, 2003, that catapulted him to power in the 2004 assembly elections in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Sharmila also chose to start her padayatra from the Chevella assembly constituency in Ranga Reddy district, the same place from where YSR also began his padayatra in 2003.
“Chevella has been sentimentally attached to my father, that is why I have chosen this place to begin my padayatra, which will also end up in the same place. I am planning to walk for 12-15 km a day, and I hope to complete my walkathon in a year,” Sharmila told reporters on Monday.
She said during her padayatra, she would like to understand the people’s problems personally and highlight what they lost in seven years of Telangana Rashtra Samithi government, led by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, besides recalling the contribution made by her father YSR for the welfare and development of the people.
“The TRS government has cheated all sections of people, including Dalits and the unemployed youth. Nearly 7,000 unemployed youth committed suicide during the KCR’s regime,” she said.
Sharmila embarked on a similar padayatra between October 18, 2012, to August 4, 2013, where she walked around 3,000 kilometres across 14 districts of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh in the name of “Maro Praja Prashthanam” (Another people’s journey), to sustain the YSR Congress party floated by her brother YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, who was in jail in connection with a CBI case.
Interestingly, Sharmila’s padayatra did not fetch victory for the YSR Congress party in the subsequent assembly elections held in a bifurcated Andhra Pradesh in 2014. Instead, Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu, who also took up a 2,808-km long padayatra, which he named “Vasthunna Mee Kosam” (I am coming for you) from October 2, 2012, to April 27, 2013, across the state, emerged victoriously.
The time-tested strategy of padayatra once again worked out for Sharmila’s brother Jagan Mohan Reddy, who created a history of sorts by walking for a massive distance of 3,648 km for 341 days, starting from November 6, 2017, to January 9, 2019, including a brief period wherein he was hospitalised. He named his padayatra “Praja Sankalpa Yatra” (Tour to take a resolve for people).
Sharmila, who launched her regional party on July 8 this year with the slogan “Rajanna Rajyam” (Rajasekhar Reddy’s welfare state) in Telangana, has been taking up 12-hour hunger-strike every week to highlight the unemployment issue in the state for the last couple of months.
On Tuesday, she attempted a hunger strike at Boduppal grounds on the outskirts of Hyderabad. But the police did not give her permission to hold the meeting. When insisted, the police arrested her and took her to Ghatkesar police station, about 20km away.
The YSRTP workers staged a dharna in front of the police station, demanding her release. She continued her fasting on the police station premises till evening.