Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

If the YSR Congress Party wins in Andhra Pradesh, it would not come as a surprise, after the most prestigious electoral battle in the state. The ruling TDP left no stone unturned to regain power, using all means fair and foul. The YSR Congress Party led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, on the other hand, sought to win the elections by earning the trust and confidence of the people. Elections are the cornerstone of democracy and serve as an opportunity for people to deliver their verdict on five years' rule of the party in power. The dominant feeling everywhere after going through predictions and surveys in groups is that the YSRCP would come to power in this election and the voting pattern also seems to indicate this. There were several pointers to this fact.

Chandrababu Naidu‘s erratic behaviour is the standout element which gives rise to the feeling that he is losing power. Similarly, the manner in which Speaker Sivaprasada Rao entered the polling booth and closed the doors was a very strange phenomenon. A man who has 35 years of political experience and holds the office of the assembly Speaker stoops down to this level! This itself indicates that he is losing.

The TDP campaigning in the run-up to the elections was on a different scale, while its propaganda on the day of the election was something else. It must be said that the two principal contenders in the state fought the elections closely. Chandrababu is widely considered to be an efficient election manager. It is believed that he can go to any lengths to win. This would have worked to some extent in 2014 elections, it is said. This time around, YSR Congress party workers and leaders made extensive arrangements to ensure proper booth management. This is the reason why there were a few violent incidents resulting in the death of one or two individuals.

Chandrababu Naidu’s strange protest in front of the office of the chief electoral officer of the state and his comments against the Election Commission also led people to believe that the ground was slipping from under the TDP‘s feet. He could not digest the transfer of two circle inspectors in Mangalagiri from where his son Nara Lokesh contested.

The misuse of authority to control the state police was seen on an unprecedented scale under Chandrababu Naidu. During the by-elections in Nandyal, he appointed his hand-picked police officers, made them vote taking this misuse of authority to a new level. He also ensured direct transfer of money to beneficiaries of welfare schemes at that time. All this was possible because it was a by-poll.

To replicate this abuse of authority in the general elections is not possible, more so when the Election Commission takes stern measures.This is precisely what happened in Andhra Pradesh. Chandrababu Naidu tried every trick in his trade even on the day of polling. To repeat the falsehood that 30% of the EVMs are not functioning, is unbecoming of someone holding the office of the Chief Minister. The fact that Chandrababu Naidu kept parroting this lie shows how agitated he has become. When there were sporadic incidents of violence on polling day, Chandrababu promptly accused the YSR Congress party of inciting violence which only shows how jittery he had become.

The TDP chief is unable to reconcile himself to the fact that people seem to have rejected him in spite of his having spent crores of government money. As a result, he is behaving in an undignified fashion. In contrast, YSR Congress party president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy exuded confidence at the time of casting his vote, predicting a victory for his party and said nothing more.

Seen from all angles, it appears as if the TDP is likely to face defeat this time around. It is being predicted that in the four districts of Rayalaseema region the YSRCP would win 35 constituencies and would bag 15 seats from Nellore and Prakasam districts. It is further being felt that in the districts of Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari all added, the YSRCP would get about 40 seats. Even if the party were to get 30 seats from these four districts it would ride to power.

Barring Visakhapatnam district, it is believed that the YSR Congress party is on a strong footing in all other districts of the state. Visakhapatnam district might fetch the party 6-7 seats, it is being said. The YSR Congress party needs a mere 25 seats to add to its total tally of 67 seats which it got the last time in 2014 in order to gain power.

The TDP came to power with the goodwill of the BJP and the support of the Jana Sena in 2014. Added to this, it made tall promises including loan waivers and Kapu reservations among many other things. Analysts say that without the support of BJP, Jana Sena or any other party and going on its own, the TDP would lose about 10% of the votes. This is the reason why analysts say that the YSRCP would get 20 Lok Sabha seats.

In other words, the YSRCP would bag about 110-120 seats in the assembly. Surveys have also pointed to this. Chandrababu Naidu tried to turn the tide of popular opinion and judgement in his favour by spending heavily from the public exchequer and in the last three months, he spent about Rs. 50,000 crores from taxpayers' money keeping aside bills worth approximately Rs. 35,000 crores. However, it is being said that people did not take his populist expenditure seriously. If he had, and if the expenditure from public treasury worked to his advantage, the TDP could win the election.

YSRCP chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, his sister, YS Sharmila and honorary president of the party, YS Vijayamma could effectively counter Chandrababu’s populist measures by driving home the point that he was out to deceive the people of the state once again. As a result, the masses did not believe Chandrababu Naidu. Analysts were also of the opinion that there was widespread resentment in various communities and social groups against the Kanna community. If this is indeed true, the YSR Congress party will sweep the state like a Tsunami. All things said, this election will also decide the power of money when it comes to influencing voters and voting patterns.

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