Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
The prestigious Andhra Pradesh election is over and results are awaited. While the Chandrababu Naidu led TDP is making desperate attempts to retain power in the state by hook or crook, while the YSR Congress Party led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is seeking to dethrone the TDP by earning the goodwill and respect of the people. Elections constitute an important element in a democratic society. It is through the ballot box that people judge the performance of a party and its government. If one were to assess the manner in which voters in Andhra Pradesh approached this election, and judging from the details of various surveys, the people seem to have shown implicit faith in the YSRCP and YS Jagan would be crowned the chief minister of the state.
Chandrababu Naidu’s erratic behavior suggests that he is losing control of things in the state. Similarly, Kodela Siva Prasada Rao who was the speaker of the Assembly, going into a polling booth and locking himself in presents a very bizarre picture. It is strange that a politician who has more than 35 years of experience in public life should behave in this fashion. It only suggests that he was gripped by the fear of impending defeat. Normally, while campaigning is extensive on days leading up to the date of polling, it hits a crescendo on polling day. This was the case in AP on April 11 with both parties waging an intense battle. It was always believed that Chandrababu was expert at poll management and would leave no stone unturned to win an election. This came true to some extent in the 2014 election. However, this time around, it must be said that TDP lagged behind in poll management as the party chief himself was to admit in some reviews .
It must be said to the credit of the YSRCP that it expanded its network down to the booth level where grassroots workers worked in good coordination. Therefore we also saw poll related violence at some booths and the tragic deaths of some individuals.
We saw the odd spectacle of Chandrababu Naidu visiting the CEO, a day before the election criticising the Election Commission and sitting in protest outside its office. This itself is a pointer to how weak the TDP had become. The TDP chief could not stomach the transfer of two circle inspectors in Mangalagiri from where his son Lokesh is contesting.
This is one instance of those in authority using the police force to further its political objectives. In the Nandyal bypoll, the TDP used welfare schemes to transfer amounts directly into the accounts of beneficiaries and went to the extent of making policemen to cast their votes in favour of the ruling party. That was possible in a byelection but the story was entirely different in general elections, more so when the election commission tightened the screws on guidelines. This is precisely what happened in AP.
Chandrababu tried this even in the day of elections. The absurd claim that 30% of EVMs malfunctioning on the day of polling is unbecoming of someone holding the office of the chief chief minister. Similarly, he blamed the YSRCP for clashes which took place in a few places even before anything came to be known on the issue.
The TDP could not find favour with the masses despite its last minute efforts. This is the reason why Chandrababu behaved in an undignified manner in contrast to the YSRCP president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy who expressed confidence in the party's victory after casting its vote. He did not say anything more than what was required.
The Assessment is that the YSR congress party would win about 35 seats in the four districts of Rayalaseema and 15 in Nellore and Prakasam. This means that by the time the party gets to Prakasam district, tracing its path from Rayalaseema, it would have notched up 50 seats. The districts of Guntur, Krishna, West and East Godavari would fetch about 40 seats is the expectation.
Barring Visakhapatnam district, the YSRCP appears to be strong in all the other districts. In Visakhapatnam, it is expected to bag 6-7 seats. The YSRCP's total tally added up to 67 seats in 2014 and it needs to add only 25 more to that figure to achieve power. The TDP went into this election without Jana Sena and BJP which helped it gain power in 2014.
In the final analysis, the YSRCP coming to power is not news, but if something different were to be the outcome that would emerge as a major surprise in Andhra Pradesh. It would also prove whether it was people’s opinion or money power which prevailed in the end.