Assembly poll casts a shadow on the Lok Sabha
Andhra Pradesh will witness a tough competition between TDP Chief and CM Chandrababu Naidu and YSRC Chief Jaganmohan Reddy, whereas Pawan Kalyan’s alliance with the Left may influence the results
Andhra Pradesh is having two elections -one to choose its Chief Minister and the other to ensure which alliance will rule India from the North and South blocks on Raisina Hill in Delhi. Not surprisingly, the focus is more on local and regional issues and it is the TDP in power in the state, which is facing anti-incumbency. To that extent in the Lok Sabha election, being held concurrently, the regional party that wins the state is also expected to win the bulk of the Lok Sabha seats and back one of the two national alliances in Delhi, UPA or the NDA.
That one of the two leaders, N Chandrababu Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy, will be sworn in as the Chief Minister when all the votes are counted is a foregone conclusion. Will a resurgent and more confident Congress cut into YSRC votes and add to the discomfiture of Reddy? And who will Pawan Kalyan hurt more are the questions. The actor-turned-politician, a Kapu by caste, has a considerable sway among the youth and also commands a following among the Kapus, who dominate East and West Godavari districts and parts of the neighbouring districts as well.
Naidu has exploited regional sentiments by emotional appeals to avenge the perceived insult to Telugu pride. The BJP led central government, he claims, has cheated the state of its dues. Promises made by the central government to AP have not been honoured, maintains Naidu and his band of vocal party men whipping up sentiments against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the central government.
Even the challenger, Jaganmohan Reddy, is forced to make a competitive regional pitch by promising to support any national alliance that gives Special Category status to Andhra Pradesh as promised by the UPA 2 government before the bifurcation of the United Andhra Pradesh.
Naidu had walked out of the NDA at the Centre, precisely on this issue, earning for himself the sympathy of voters. Naidu is also telling voters that despite obstacles from the central government as also opposition from the KCR led Telangana government on Polavaram dam, he was able to do a lot for Andhra Pradesh.
Although it is taking some doing to convince people, Naidu is lamenting that he needs more time to complete his pet projects that will place Andhra Pradesh ahead of the rest of the states in development. Prominent among them is the proposed capital Amaravati, which at present, remains on the drawing board.
Jaganmohan Reddy on the other hands raises these very same issues to flag the failure of Naidu and alleges massive corruption in everything Naidu did. For Naidu, the land acquisition of 34,000 acres for state capital of Amaravati could be a problem as farmers are said to be angry.
Political analysts feel that corruption charges could cancel out as all the players are not untouched by the corruption taint. What matters eventually is who gains from the overall national narrative as well. If the state is in the mood to effect a change at the Centre, then by extension it could mean curtains for Jaganmohan Reddy as he is seen as the B-team of the BJP.
In fact, Prime Minister Modi does not mention Jaganmohan Reddy or his corruption cases while singling out Naidu, his family and of course Congress during his campaigning in Andhra Pradesh. Giving away the game that post-poll scenario would see Jaganmohan Reddy walk over to the NDA.
But when it comes to the Andhra Pradesh assembly, TDP supremo Naidu is clearly under pressure.
There are total 175 seats in Andhra Assembly. Naidu is hoping that multi-cornered contests will help TDP squeeze past, even if barely so, as the last time around when Naidu just about pipped Jaganmohan Reddy.
In the ultimate analysis, it all boils down to how effective Pawan Kalyan is and how vigorous Congress revival is. Pawan Kalyan, who has allied with the Left parties, will be putting up candidates in all the seats in the assembly and Lok Sabha. For Congress, it makes sense to ensure YSR’s defeat.