Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
It would not be wrong to say that never has such a situation overtaken Telugu Desam Party since its inception. We have seen how people would jostle with one another for a TDP ticket. Things have turned full circle now. Candiddates are reluctant to contest on a ruling party ticket in the current scenario. The TDP leadership must be worried about this development. Look at Chandrababu Naidu's statement in Nellore. He criticised Nellore Rural candidate Adala Prabhakar Reddy describing him as chameleon and called for the defeat of such turncoats.
By this token are YSRCP MLAs in TDP chameleons? For that matter, even Chandrababu is described as a chameleon by opposition parties for his multiple U-turns. The funniest part about the Nellore public meeting is that instead of referring to the Nellore rural candidate Adala Prabhakar Reddy as a chameleon, he instead called the MP candidate Beedha Mastan Rao, one. Chandrababu's anxiety is all too evident.
45-year-old YS Jagan has been running his party in a systematic manner. He buffetted many storms politically, including Chandrababu's decision to poach 23 YSRCP MLAs enticing them with huge amounts. YS Jagan reached out to the masses and connected with them. Throwing a challenge at Chandrababu Naidu, he put up candidates in 175 Assembly candidates at one go. Similarly, he also announced the names of 25 Lok Sabha candidates. One distinguising factor is the selection of three BC candidates out of four Lok Sabha seats in Anantapur and Kurnool districts. The Telugu Desam on the other hand, gave all seats to candidates from an upper caste. YS Jagan decided to field a common Dalit from an impoverished background for the Bapatla Lok Sabha seat. Similarly, in Srikakulam also, he gave the ticket to a candidate who stood by the party but lacked the means to fight a major election. In Anakapalle, YS Jagan gave the ticket to a prominent doctor who does social service. This is the first time that we see the Telugu Desam scouting for candidates for the Lok Sabha. In Narsapuram, Rajahmundry, Ongole, Nellore and Rajampeta for example, the TDP gave tickets to candidates who are reluctant to enter the electoral ring.
The other factor is tickets given to three Congress candidates, not to speak of the farce in which Rayapati Sambasiva Rao was the central character. TDP's candidate from Srisailam Assembly constituency Budda Rajasekhara Reddy brought no credit to the party by announcing that he was in no position to fight the elections. YS Jagan, in contrast, carried out the selection process in a methodical manner and gave preference to candidates who worked to strengthen it over the past five years. Chandrababu dwelt more on ranks and marks. His entire selection process as a result turned into a mess. JC Diwakar Reddy from Anantapur said that TDP would not win if it did not change at least 40% of its MLAs. Clearly, TDP could not heed his advice. Another MP tried to secure a ruling party ticket for his son and remarked that it would be good if he gets it, better if he does not. Yet another MP revealed that his followers advised him against trying for ticket from a sinking ship like the TDP. However, some MLAs on whom Chandrababu spent crores of rupees to encourage defections into TDP, did not get tickets. Some of them are not repenting for what they did. Pathipadu (East Godavari) MLA Parupula Subba Rao commented that he made a mistake by leaving his party. He added that he left the party because his co-brother Jyotsula Nehru was promised a cabinet berth. Butta Renuka, MP from Kurnool, also remarked that she made a big mistake by joining the TDP and paid the price for it. She said that returning to YSRCP was like a homecoming and that she did not aspire for a ticket. Such a situation had rarely developed in the TDP before. This may be on account of the results of surveys being conducted by national channels which show a strong swing in favour of the YSR Congress party. It could also be because of another reason. One thing is for certain. YS Jagan has clearly scored in the first round involving selection of candidates for the electoral fight.
Meanwhile, Jana Sena is in a state of total chaos. It has not been able to finalise its list of candidates though the process of nominations has begun. One cannot understand as to why Pawan Kalyan has decided to contest from two constituencies.Even if one were to contest from two seats, one would choose a constituency from the coastal belt and another from Rayalaseema. Instead, both the constituencies chosen by Pawan are in the coastal area and are dominated by a social group. There is nothing wrong with this, but when one criticises others, it is important to introspect as well. The Jana Sena giving up its seat to the relatively weak CPI in Mangalagirl from where Chandrababu's son Nara Lokesh is waging a struggle for survival against YSRCP's Alla Rama Krishna Reddy, is another indicator to Pawan's approach to this elections. where is the need for Pawan to seek an alliance with BSP which is based out of Uttar Pradesh and has no visibility here? If Pawan Kalyan was strong enough, then BSP itself would have thought of such a pact. The underlying political reasons naturally create doubts in one's mind about Pawan and his Jana Sena. Moreover, he announced that he would give 3 Lok Sabha and 21 Assembly seats to the Left parties who always fight for some cause in the interests of AP and finally ended up giving them 14. Former CBI official JD Lakshmi Narayana who joined the Jana Sena is all set to try his luck by fighting for the Lok Sabha seat from Visakhapatnam. Interestingly, he did not contest from the Rayalaseema region to which he belongs.
Congress and BJP are not likely to influence the outcome of the election in a big way though they are set to announce their candidates as well. Just when it was gaining some momentum, the Congress party lost its credibility by tying up with the ruling TDP. Similarly, the BJP also lost out because it backs TDP for over four years and is now trying to stake out on his own. The problems both these parties face are self created.