Andhra Pradesh

Congress Victory in Telangana Prompts Babu and Pawan Kalyan to Intensify Criticism Against Jagan

The victory of Congress party in Telangana has given hope to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) that it can repeat the same with the help of Pawan Kalya-led Jana Sena to defeat Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP.

Amaravati: Andhra Pradesh is heading for an interesting poll battle in 2024 as the Telugu Desam Party in alliance with the Jana Sena Party is gearing up to take on ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP).

The victory of Congress party in Telangana has given hope to the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) that it can repeat the same with the help of Pawan Kalya-led Jana Sena to defeat Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP.

The YSRCP will be banking on the welfare schemes implemented by it during the last five years to seek a fresh mandate while TDP-JSP will be hoping to cash in on the anti-incumbency.

Political analysts say while in Telangana voter fatigue and allegations of corruption were the key factors for defeat of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), YSRCP is not facing a similar situation in Andhra Pradesh.

Jagan also appears to have learnt lessons from the Telangana outcome as he is said to be planning to drop more than 50 per cent of sitting MLAs to beat the anti-incumbency at constituency level.

“It’s too early to predict the result but even if YSRCP loses the factors will be different. The factor may be like development not happening and the perception that the government is using dole outs to buy votes,” said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

At a public meeting two days ago, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy claimed that the YSRCP government has so far disbursed Rs 2.45 lakh crore under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes.

Claiming that his government has implemented 95 per cent of poll promises, he said people in all villages would only remember the village secretariats, volunteer system, Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs), pension door delivery, village clinics, family doctors, Mahila Police, Jagananna Aarogya Suraksha and free power supply to farmers ushered in by him.

He claimed that the government distributed 35 lakh house site pattas to the poor and is building 22 lakh houses besides building 17 new medical colleges, four new ports and 10 fishing harbours. The social pensions were hiked three times and 50 per cent of the nominated posts were reserved for women and 75 per cent of the benefits of welfare schemes are being received by SC, ST, BC, and minority communities.

Jagan has stepped up attacks on his main political adversaries Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan.

“Despite working for 14 years as Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu has no achievements to his credit as he spent entire tenure indulging in scams and pursuing the policy of plunder, stash and devour. He has no political values and credibility except telling lies, cheating people and backstabbing,” Jagan Mohan Reddy said.

The YSRCP chief has termed TDP-JSP an evil alliance and remarked that they have no guts to contest independently.

With Pawan Kalyan joining hands with Chandrababu Naidu, the alliance appears to be in a strong position to challenge YSRCP.

“For the first time opposition unity is visible in Andhra Pradesh which may not be a good sign for Jagan Mohan Reddy,” said Raghavendra Reddy.

He believes that unlike in 2019, Pawan Kalyan is acting with maturity. In the previous elections, JSP had an alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left parties. Out of 175 Assembly seats, JSP had contested 137 seats but could win just one seat. Pawan Kalyan himself suffered defeat in both the seats he contested. JSP had polled 5.53 per cent votes.

Political analysts say the TDP-JSP alliance may make a difference this time. In 2019, YSRCP had wrested power from TDP with a landslide victory, bagging 151 seats. It polled 49.95 per cent votes. The TDP was distant second with 23 votes and 39.17 per cent votes.

Sharing the dais after nearly a decade, Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan at a public meeting in Vizianagaram district on December 20, they sounded the poll bugle and ended the ‘anarchic’ rule of YSRCP.

Chandrababu Naidu described TDP’s alliance with the Jana Sena as a historic necessity. The 73-year-old has already declared that this will be his last electoral battle.

The former chief minister remarked that the state has been pushed 30 years back due to the mistake of giving a single chance to Jagan.

Announcing that the TDP-Jana Sena combined manifesto will soon be released, the TDP supremo said that they have already decided to provide free bus travel for women, to pay Rs 3,000 per month each for jobless youth and provide employment to 20 lakh youth.

With defeating Jagan his top priority, Pawan Kalyan is ready to play second fiddle to Naidu in the alliance. The actor is not in a hurry to become the chief minister and is ready to wait for his turn.

It is likely to be a direct fight between the YSRCP and TDP-JSP alliance. As Andhra Pradesh politics over the last one decade is dominated by the two major regional players, both the national parties are insignificant. The vote share of Congress and BJP has reduced to less than two and one per cent respectively.

While Pawan Kalyan, who is part of BJP-led NDA, is making all efforts to rope in the saffron party for a grand opposition alliance to avoid split of anti-incumbency votes, it is still not clear if BJP will join them or contest on its own.

The saffron party went alone in 2019 and drew a blank. It polled 0.84 per cent votes.

The victories of the Congress party in Karnataka and more recently in Telangana have rekindled the hopes of a revival in the grand old party. However, political observers say making a comeback will be a huge task for Congress, which was virtually wiped out of the political scene in 2014 due to public anger over bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.

The Congress party drew a blank in both Assembly and Lok Sabha elections for a second consecutive time in 2019.

A section of Congress leaders are making efforts to revive the party in the state. As part of this they are trying to woo Y.S. Sharmila to join the party.

Following differences with her brother Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, Sharmila had floated YSR Telangana Party (YSRTP) in neighbouring Telangana. Though she was keen to merge her party with the Congress before the Assembly elections in Telangana, the talks with the central leadership hit a roadblock as a section of Congress leaders, especially Telangana Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy was opposed to the idea of giving her a role in Telangana. They had instead suggested that Sharmila join the party in Andhra Pradesh. She, however, was reluctant.

Sharmila, daughter of late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, had not contested the recent Assembly elections in Telangana as she wanted to avoid a split of anti-BRS votes. Political analysts say with Revanth Reddy becoming the chief minister in Telangana, Sharmila may explore a role outside Telangana.

Some Congress leaders in Andhra Pradesh want the party to rope her in for running an election campaign in the state.

It’s still not clear if Sharmila will be ready to campaign against her brother. Despite the differences with Jagan Mohan Reddy, she so far avoided a direct confrontation.

Caste plays a key role in Andhra Pradesh elections. While Kammas are seen as supporters of TDP, Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena is hoping to get the support of Kapu community.

Dominated by Reddys, the YSRCP also claims to be enjoying support of Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities.

Riding on this support, YSRCP swept the 2019 elections, winning 151 seats in the 175-member Assembly. It also bagged 22 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats from the state.

The BCs constitute nearly 50 per cent of the state’s population, with 139 subcastes. The SCs make up around 19 per cent while STs comprise about 5.6 per cent.

In what is seen as a move to drum up support of these sections for YSRCP ahead of elections, the state government decided to undertake a caste census.

A pilot of the caste census was launched on November 15. The actual exercise was scheduled to begin on December 9 but was postponed due to cyclone.

This will make Andhra Pradesh second state after Bihar to undertake caste census.

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy believes that the census will empower the BCs and ensure social justice in the state.

The YSRCP government says that the findings will enhance our data-driven governance and help in targeted delivery of the poverty alleviation and other welfare schemes.

Through this exercise, the YSRCP is also trying to woo Other Backward Classes (OBCs), who are considered traditional supporters of the TDP.

Political analysts say through caste census the YSRCP may be looking to break the stranglehold of Kammas and Kapus in certain districts.

With politically powerful castes like Kammas and Kapus dominating elections in some districts in south coastal Andhra, the YSRCP may be looking to use the findings of the caste census to challenge this domination.

The TDP is also trying to counter YSRCP by planning a separate manifesto for the BCs. The party has announced that ‘Jayaho BC’ will be launched on January 4 to know the problems being faced by the backward classes in the state.

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