How Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSRCP Emerged as the Main Challenger to TDP in Andhra Pradesh
The Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), which came into existence in March 2011 after Jagan Mohan Reddy’s ever-escalating differences with Congress, had grabbed nearly 46 percent of votes during the last Lok Sabha polls held in 2014.
YSRCP chief Jagan Mohan Reddy.
New Delhi: A C-Voter survey last month suggested that if elections were to happen at that point in time in Andhra Pradesh, the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) would emerge as the single-largest party in the state. The survey claimed that YSRCP would win at least 19 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats with a vote share of 41 percent.
It also showed the ruling-Telugu Desam Party (TDP) being reduced to 6 seats and 31 percent of vote share, which had won 15 seats and 41 percent of votes in 2014.
Whether these predictions would hold ground or not in reality, is open to debate. However, even if they do, there’s much reason to not consider it as an overnight success for Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party.
An analysis of previous electoral performances of YSRCP during its short period of existence, shows that these survey claims might not have been made with an empty barrel.
The party, which came into existence in March 2011 after Jagan’s ever-escalating differences with Congress, had grabbed nearly 46 percent of votes during the last Lok Sabha polls held in 2014. This was significantly ahead of TDP’s 41 percent vote-share. The party, however, managed to win eight seats compared with TDP’s 15, which was a BJP ally at that time.
In Assembly elections as well, which were held simultaneously, YSRCP was the sole challenger to TDP. It won 67 of the 174 seats it contested against TDP’s 102.
According to Professor K Nageshwar Rao, a political analyst and former Member of Legislative Council of Andhra Pradesh, much of YSRCP’s success is attributed to Congress’ diminishing presence in the state, and the gradual shift of its vote base to YSRCP.
“Ten years of Congress got a lot of anti-incumbency and then there was the bifurcation of the state. Therefore, Congress has been decimated in Andhra Pradesh. When the Congress is decimated, where should the anti-TDP voter go? So, anti-TDP vote consolidated behind YSRCP and that is the reason why it has grown as a strong adversary to TDP,” Rao said.
“Reddys, minorities and SCs are strongly behind YSRCP. The Christian faction among the Dalit Mala community also supports Jagan due to him being a Christian. Moreover, because of the legacy of Rajasekhara Reddy, Jagan’s father, who has an iconic image because of his welfare schemes, poorer sections are rallying behind Jagan,” he added.
Evidently, the replacement of Congress by the YSRCP as a major player in regional politics became visible for the first time in June 2012. Just over one year after its inception, YSRCP won 15 of the 18 Assembly seats on which bye-elections were held in the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh. The party dethroned the Congress on 13 of these seats. It also won the Nellore Lok Sabha seat, previously held by Congress, during the same by-polls.
The bye-elections were, in fact, caused by the disqualification of one MP and 17 Congress MLAs for switching allegiance to the YSRCP.
In 2014 too, Congress was reduced to nearly 3 percent of vote-share in both Assembly and Parliamentary elections from around 36 percent and 39 in both of them, respectively during 2009 elections in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.
Interestingly, Congress was at the third spot on 21 of the 25 Parliamentary seats and 117 of the 175 Assembly seats it contested in Andhra Pradesh in the previous round of elections five years back. This further strengthens Rao’s argument.
This rise of YSRCP as the main rival and challenger to the TDP, is also encouraging leaders and legislators from the ruling party itself, to jump ships ahead of the elections. In the past two months, at least four TDP leaders have defected to the YSRCP. These include MPs Avanthi Srinivasa Rao and P Ravindra Babu, MLA Amanchi Krishna Mohan and former MLA Abdul Gani. One Congress leader has also joined YSRCP.
“There are no candidates available for Jagan Mohan’s party, only those who are not getting tickets from the TDP are shifting towards YSRCP. They are not (fit) to contest as far as the TDP is concerned,” said TDP spokesperson, Dinakhar Lanka.
Prof Rao on the other hand, said that defections in the run-up to elections are a common practice. “Political leaders across party-lines have been defecting to different parties and there is a reason for that. They shift when they don’t get ticket from a particular party for the constituency of their choice or they are not confident of winning on a party ticket they will change the party,” he opined.
However, despite the defections and the anti-incumbency factor expected to play a role, TDP does not consider Jagan as a challenge in the upcoming elections.
“There is no competition with YSRCP. In fact, we are going to register a landslide victory. We are going to get 140+ (out of 175) Assembly seats and 20+ (out of 25) Parliamentary seats,” argued Lanka, claiming that TDP had worked for the development and welfare of the people in the last five years and that the state had progressed under the leadership of CM N Chandrababu Naidu.
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