Jagan, the current flagbearer of the family, is locked in a neck-and-neck battle for power with Chandrababu Naidu.
AMARAVATI: If the NTR clan continues to dominate the politics in Andhra Pradesh for over three decades, the YSR family remains its biggest rival since taking the centre stage in 2004.
The family of Congress leader and former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy is the second most powerful political dynasty of the state with his son Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy locked in a neck-and-neck battle for power with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in the April 11 elections.
Jagan Mohan Reddy is the President of YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), the political identity of the YSR family since 2011, while Naidu is the leader of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), founded by his father-in-law N.T. Rama Rao, a leading actor who was popular as NTR
Naidu claims to be carrying forward the political legacy of NTR, while Jagan quit the Congress to float a party to perpetuate the legacy of his late father.
Jagan made his electoral debut in 2009 when his father Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popular as YSR, led Congress to power for the second term in a row in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.
The young businessman was elected from Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency, considered YSR family’s pocket borough, defeating his nearest rival P. Srikanth Reddy of TDP by a margin of 1.78 lakh votes.
The death of YSR in a helicopter crash in September 2009, a few months after he assumed the office of the Chief Minister for a second term, plunged the state into political chaos. The Congress leadership preferred K. Rosaiah as YSR’s successor even as Jagan was lobbying for the top post.
With the backing of a section of YSR loyalists, Jagan defied the party leadership to embark on “Odarpu yatra” to console the families of those who died of shock on hearing the news about his father’s Death
Amid the dissidence in the ruling party camp, Jagan’s uncle Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy was inducted into the state cabinet. Angry over what he called “attempts by the Congress to create division in the family”, Jagan quit the party and also resigned from the Lok Sabha. His mother Y.S. Vijayalaxmi also resigned as MLA from Pulivendula, from where she was declared unopposed following YSR’s death.
In 2011, Jagan launched Yuvajana Sramika Rythu (YSR) Congress Party with a promise to introduce the welfare schemes implemented during his late father’s rule.
Within three months, he was re-elected from Kadapa in the by-election with a record majority of over 5.43 lakh votes. Vijayalaxmi also won from Pulivendula, defeating her brother-in-law Vivekananda Reddy of the Congress by a margin of over 85,000 votes. The margin of victory in both the constituencies bettered the record held by YSR.
Till then, the YSR family had won Kadapa and Pulivendula for six and 10 times, respectively, on Congress ticket. In 2011, the family retained its hold but this time contesting as YSRCP candidates.
However, Jagan was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in a disproportionate assets case in May 2012. He remained in jail for 16 months.
When Jagan was behind the bars, his mother ran the party as its honorary President and his sister Y.S. Sharmila conducted a “padyatra” or foot march to mobilise public support for him.
In 2014, Jagan contested and won from Pulivendula while his mother unsuccessfully contested from the Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha seat. Though TDP came to power, YSRCP replaced the Congress as the second biggest player in state politics, bagging 67 seats in the 175-member Assembly.
This time, Jagan is contesting again from Pulivendula while his cousin Avinash Reddy is seeking re-election from Kadapa.
Jagan’s maternal uncle, P. Ravindranath Reddy, is also contesting for the Assembly from Kamlapuram in Kadapa district. His another uncle, Y.V. Subba Reddy, is a key leader of the party and is the outgoing MP from Ongole. This time Jagan has not fielded him.
The murder of Vivekananda Reddy at his house in Pulivendula in March rattled the YSR family when it was gearing up for the elections.
Vivekananda had joined YSRCP and was working for the party. The family pointed fingers at the TDP and alleged that there was a conspiracy to kill all the family members.
After YSR and his father Raja Reddy, Vivekananda was the third member of the family to have met with unnatural death.
In Kadapa district of Rayalaseema region, once notorious for bloody fights among rival factions backed by political parties, Raja Reddy was the leader of a group supported by the Congress. In 1998, he was killed in a bomb attack by the rival faction supported by the TDP.
Out of the five sons of Raja Reddy, only YSR and Vivekananda Reddy were in politics. While YSR went on to become one of the most popular leaders of the state, Vivekananda maintained a low profile.
The two brothers always shared the Pulivendula Assembly seat or the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat, depending on the role YSR chose for himself.