Riding on sympathy wave, Jagan emerges numero uno

The game ch­anger of the recently concluded by-polls in Andhra Pradesh was the arrest of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy on the night of May 27 at the CBI camp office.

His mother Vijayamma, wife Bharati and sister Sharmila had then staged a spontaneous dharna on a pavement close to  Raj Bhavan in full glare of local and national media.

Riding the crest of a sympathy wave, the YSR Congress (YSRC) party bagged 15 out of 18 Assembly seats and the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency for which the by-polls were held.

It was evident from the results that Jagan’s arrest by the Central Bureau of Investigation  ahead of polling, worked against the  Congress and TDP. The huge  crowds, particularly women, that attended the road shows even in Parkala in Telangana did wonders and the YSRC managed to convert the crowds into votes, considering the 80 per cent voter turnout and the landslide victory.

During the campaign, the Congress and TDP parties tried to portray Jaganmohan Reddy as corrupt and the TDP dubbed his father late YSR as the “devil”.  The arrest of Congress Minister Mopidevi a few days ahead of Jagan also worked against the ruling party as in the process, they ended up appearing to the voters as cut from the same cloth.

“Both Congress and TDP concentrated on Jagan rather than addressing the local issues.

But Jagan had already done several rounds of campaigning in the name of Odarpu Yatra , consoling the bereaved families of those who died heart broken after late YSR’s death,” a political analyst observed.

Seen as “semi finals” before the 2014 general elections, the by-polls turned out to be a major setback for the ruling Congress which managed to win two seats while the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) scraped through in Parkal, the lone constituency in  the Telangana region, with a slender margin of 1,560 votes in a cliff-hanger. Thus Parkal registered the lowest margin in the by-polls, whereas G Srikanth Reddy (YSRCP) of Rayachoti of Kadapa district got the highest margin of 56,891 votes over his nearest rival.

Voters in the Parkal constituency, hitherto loyal to Konda Surekha (YSRCP), gave a caution to the TRS by giving its candidate M Bikshapathi a roller-coaster ride during counting when his margins plummeted before finally electing him by a narrow margin.

After its defeat at the BJP’s hands in Mahabubnagar in March, the TRS has now sprung back into action.

The near-clean sweep by the fledgling YSR Congress party is bound to have grave consequences for the ruling party which had barely managed to survive a no-confidence motion in the Assembly in December last year. At present, the Congress has 153 MLAs in the 294-member Assembly, five more than the magic figure of 148, and any desertions from its ranks could spell trouble for the Kiran Kumar Reddy government in near future.

Already, two Congress legislators have submitted their resignations to support Jagan.

The by-poll outcome has emboldened the YSRC which said the victory of its candidates with huge margins was an “indication of the things to come.” Such was the scale of the YSRC’s victories that its candidates secured the majority in excess of 10,000 votes in 14 out of the 15 constituencies where it emerged victorious, indicating a strong anti-incumbency factor against the Congress government.

The Congress had to remain content with the Ramachandrapuram and Narsapur constituencies in the coastal region where its candidates won with a margin of 11,919 votes and 4,464 votes respectively, while the main opposition  Telugu Desam Party drew a blank. In fact, the by-polls delivered the biggest blow for TDP which was hoping to capitalise on the split in the traditional Congress votes, i.e., Reddy votes.

The TDP suffered the dubious distinction of not having won a single seat in 41 successive by-elections since 2009. So overwhelming were the majorities notched up by the YSR Congress candidates that the Congress and the TDP forfeited security deposits in six seats each. In some constituencies, their combined vote was less than those of the winner.

The Congress received a stinging slap at Tirupati. It was vacated by Chiranjeevi, following his elevation to the Rajya Sabha as a reward for his merging Praja Rajyam party with Congress. It lost to the YSRCP by a whopping 17,975  votes.

Bhumana Karunakara Reddy (YSRCP), former TTD chairman  improved the record of Chiranjeevi, who won in 2009 with  a margin of 15,930.

In retaining his Nellore LS seat, YSRCP Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy bulldozed former Union minister and Congress candidate T  Subbarami Reddy by a 2.91 lakh vote margin.

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