The 'call' that was 'uncalled for'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reported phone call to YSR Telangana Party president YS Sharmila has provided enough fodder for political analysts to dissect

Narendra Modi - YS Sharmila

HYDERABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reported phone call to YSR Telangana Party president YS Sharmila has provided enough fodder for political analysts to dissect, what with the "much-publicised call" was neither confirmed nor denied either by the BJP or the Government of India or the YSRTP. Sharmila merely "reacted" to a media query saying: "Thank you, Modiji."

The truth remains under wraps, even as nobody can ascertain the fact. Perhaps the BJP or its cronies may want it to be left for anybody's guess. The haze around the call apparently is akin to smoke (without fire).

That said, what has the news or truth of Modi done to the BJP unit of Telangana, which has assumed an aggressive posture against Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao and his Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS)? It sure left the BJP leaders high and dry, for suddenly the rank and file of the party was awe-struck and jaw-dropped. Will the BJP enter into a poll pact with the YSRTP? Is Y S Sharmila's party that strong or is she that popular to influence the voters? Having completed 3,500 km of padayatra within Telangana, Sharmila may be nursing a dream of a political career ahead in Telangana.

But, are padayatras still flavour of the season any longer? The padayatra by her brother YS Jaganmohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh in 2017-18 stretched to 3,648 km for 341 days. Sharmila has miles to go before she ends the "Praja Prasthanam" padayatra, though she almost equalled the record-breaking distance covered by her brother. By the time Jagan had completed his padayatra to an extent of a fourth of the distance he had covered, people had begun joining the march and enthusing him everywhere. This proved to be the sine qua non that Jagan was going to make it to power. Ironically, his sister's padayatra doesn't indicate anything of that ilk.

For that matter, the five legs of padayatra (Praja Sangrama Yatra) by Telangana BJP unit president Bandi Sanjay, and Bharat Jodo Yatra by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too paled in front of Jagan's "Praja Sankalpa Yatra".

Why are the BJP leaders from Telangana confused now? Soon after Sharmila's vehicle was towed away by the police resisting her from protesting, all BJP leaders worth their name tweeted in her support, obliquely indicating that they were in her favour. However, the Prime Minister's much-touted 10-minute-long phone call to her perplexed most of them, for he is said to have "invited" her to Delhi to meet him. It's not only seen as an insult meted out to them, but a prelude to nurse a long-term poll pact with her.

In fact, the BJP doesn't have any chemistry with her for a variety of reasons. She is the daughter of an avowed Congressman (Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy). Her husband (Brother Anil Kumar) is a practising Christian evangelist, though he was born as a Brahmin.

On the other hand, the BJP leaders pray to every village goddess or deity they come across. Bandi Sanjay began his padayatra at Bhagyalakshmi temple. The BJP leaders invoke Hindu Gods at every stage to keep the religious sentiment alive among the people. Any hint of association with Sharmila would dilute their effort and also may turn out to be counterproductive.

As it is, the Telangana BJP unit is grappling with a stark reality that it cannot dub their bete noire KCR as irreligious or anti-Hindu. KCR, on his part, so involuntarily gives primacy to his religious sentiment – be it Ayutha Chandi Yaagam, or rebuilding of Yadadri temple or every inaugural of integrated district collectorate complex.

As latest as on Wednesday, after inaugurating the district collectorate complex in Jagitial, KCR quoted hymns of the priests, who had performed puja just then, saying: nyaayena margena mahim...maheeshaam...lokaassamasthaassukhinobhavanthu." And, explained its meaning. Perhaps no BJP leader in the State can measure up to this kind of commitment or knowledge.

If the central leadership of the BJP tries to stitch a poll alliance with Sharmila, that amounts to belittling the 'padayatra' of Bandi Sanjay. For, Sharmila is not sparing even the BJP in her attacks. Also, it amounts to impaling the fact, albeit true, that the local leadership "just doesn't matter" and is "inconsequential" in larger scheme of things.

Any alliance between the BJP and the YSRTP would be seen as a syntax error that's more conspicuous. Equations of the BJP with her brother and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan, and his positioning towards KCR would all have to undergo a metamorphosis. Because, Jagan cannot afford to send across a message among his electors that his and his sister's politics are surreptitiously intertwined, but veiled by differences of opinion.

However, the gambit of the phone call by the Prime Minister is more of a political overture that signals a far-reaching consequence in Telangana and also Andhra Pradesh. Therefore, they strongly feel "the call" was indeed "uncalled for."

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