|Jaganís wife Bharathi, mother Vijayalakshmi and sister Sharmila. Picture by G. Vijayalakshmi
Hyderabad, Oct. 6: On Friday morning, hours before the Supreme Court was to rule on Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy’s bail plea, thousands of newspaper readers in Andhra Pradesh were told about a question the Kadapa MP’s younger daughter had apparently put to her mother.
“Why is daddy in jail, mummy, when he has not done anything wrong?” Varsha, 11, asked her, Jagan’s wife Bharathi wrote in her column in Sakshi, the Telugu daily owned by the family.
“I had no reply for my daughter,” she added.
Bharathi began writing the column, titled Jagan Kosam (for the sake of Jagan), on September 18, the day the YSR Congress president’s latest bail petition was listed for hearing in the Supreme Court, which eventually rejected it on October 5.
Since then, she has been writing about three days a week, arguing that her husband — in custody in an illegal assets case since May 27 — was targeted by the Congress in connivance with the Telugu Desam Party.
On the other days of the week, the newspaper — published by Jagati Publications of which Bharathi is chairperson — has been carrying reader responses.
“Why have the ministers and officers who benefited from YSR’s largesse not been arrested if the quid pro quo allegations are true? Why have they been let off?” wrote a sympathetic Nagamalleswari from Guntur district recently, accepting a point made by Bharathi.
A senior journalist not connected with Sakshi, H. Vidyaranya, said: “Bharathi’s articles are nothing but a woman’s soul speaking out loud.... Her column is winning women’s sympathy for Jagan and his new party.”
Bharathi has largely avoided writing about the legal issues of the case but has been accusing the ruling Congress of harassing the Reddy family ever since Jagan left the party about two years ago.
The charge against Jagan is that he and his late father, former Congress chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy (YSR), amassed huge assets by forcing industrialists to invest in their companies in return for favours. Bharathi has been relentlessly asking why, if the charges are true, others have been spared.
“Everyone knows that even the present chief minister, Kiran Kumar Reddy, and most of the cabinet members are beneficiaries of YSR’s generosity. None of them spoke against my father-in-law when he was alive, but are speaking ill of him now,” she wrote in one of her articles.
Bharathi’s articles are all handwritten in Telugu and she is proficient in English, too, although she doesn’t have any prior experience of writing, Sakshi sources said. They added that she is up to date with political developments in the state and regularly liaises with her husband’s lawyers.
An MBA, Bharathi has been managing the family’s various businesses since Jagan entered politics following YSR’s death in an air crash in September 2009.
“Bharathi’s chief asset is she is adamant at sticking to facts and speaking the truth. That’s what drives her to write in the first place, to constantly set the record straight to maintain the truth barometer for the public; she considers it her obligation and privilege to be able to do so,” Murali, the Sakshi editor-in-charge, told The Telegraph.
On Friday, the apex court struck Bharathi’s hopes a blow by advising Jagan’s counsel not to approach it for bail again and directed the CBI to complete the investigations by March 2013.
Sources said Bharathi would continue to fight the battle through her column and was not expected to become active in politics in the near future, unlike her mother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Jagan’s mother Vijayalakshmi, an MLA, has been overseeing party work since his arrest and his sister Sharmila Reddy campaigned for the YSR Congress during the June by-elections. Mother and daughter have been interacting with the media and the electorate.
Bharathi lives in Bangalore where she and Jagan had moved in 2002. Since YSR’s death, Jagan has been spending most of his time in Andhra Pradesh, though. The couple have two daughters, Harshini, 13, and Varsha.
Bharathi is a second cousin of Jagan and grew up in Bangalore, where her parents, E.C. Gangi Reddy and Suguna, are practising paediatricians.
She studied at Bangalore’s Bishop Cotton School and, after her marriage in the mid-1990s, graduated in commerce from Maris Stella College, Vijayawada. She earned her MBA from Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Ananthapur.
After her marriage, Bharathi had joined an NGO to help street children in Hyderabad and now continues the work in Bangalore’s slums.
She looks after the schools and colleges run by the Reddy family trust at their hometown of Pulivendula in Kadapa. She has got the schoolteachers trained in working with children with special needs, and brought specialists over from Nimhans, Bangalore, to Pulivendula to treat children with mental disorders.