Congress' hopes of revival in Andhra Pradesh falters

Sharmila fails to make an impact; vote share shrinks over the years
Last Updated : 13 June 2024, 22:56 IST

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Hyderabad: Even though the Congress has made a comeback in Telangana, the party's hopes of a revival in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh once again faltered.

In the recent assembly elections, Congress could garner votes only above the NOTA option, which is a little better than below the NOTA in 2019.

Congress central leadership had pinned hopes on YS Sharmila Reddy after she was appointed Andhra PCC chief recently. However, she failed to make an impact in the polls.

Sharmila not only lost in Kadapa but came third after the TDP candidate. Her cousin, YS Avinash Reddy, retained the seat.

The Congress polled 1.72 per cent votes, which was just 0.55 points above the 2019 polls. NOTA garnered around 1.09% of the votes.

Congress was a dominant force in Andhra Pradesh but faced a major setback in 2014.

The bifurcation of the state and the perceived 'ineffective' leadership resulted in a significant backlash. The party experienced a significant decline in its vote share, dropping from a commanding 38 per cent in 2009 to a mere 1.72 per cent in 2024.

Hype and reality

"Undoubtedly, there was a lot of hype around Sharmila's appointment as PCC chief. Congress had hoped that there would be some kind of resurgence. Unfortunately, she could not make any impact. It's interesting to note that while she failed to revive Congress's fortunes, she significantly impacted the prospects of the TDP. Particularly in the Rayalaseema region, which is considered a stronghold for the YSRCP. Sharmila's campaign, centered around YS Viveka's murder, actually benefited the TDP," political analyst and Navyandhra Intellectual Forum chairman Prof DAR Subramanyam told DH.

He further added that Jagan had put in all his might and resources to secure a win for his cousin, YS Avinash Reddy, from Kadapa. Prof Subramanyam also observed that the TDP's alliance with the BJP had helped polarise minority votes in favour of YSRCP, which otherwise could have shifted towards Congress.

Not only were the 2024 polls significant for the Congress, but they also saw Dr YSR's children contesting from different parties, 15 years after his death in a helicopter crash.

While both disagreed that it was a legacy war, Jagan, who founded YSRCP, which won the people's mandate in 2019, looked for a second term and contested the Pulivendula Assembly segment from the YS family's pocket borough.

Sharmila, who had a failed experiment in Telangana politics, folded up her party, the YSRTP, in the neighbouring state and joined Congress to lead the party in Andhra Pradesh.

Sharmila had openly said that she was running for justice for the murder of her uncle Viveka.

Sharmila criticised Jagan for fielding Avinash, whom the CBI has named as an accused in the Viveka murder case. Jagan's cousin, Dr Sunitha, has been openly claiming that Jagan has been shielding Avinash and his father, YS Bhaskar Reddy, another accused in the case. Both Sharmila and Dr Sunitha led an emotional yet fierce campaign for justice, facing attacks from the troll brigade of the YSRCP.

However, none of this helped Sharmila win the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat or significantly boost the Congress.

Published 13 June 2024, 22:56 IST

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