As a CBI court on Monday extended the judicial remand of YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy till June 25,his mother Y S Vijayalakshmi pronounced that the YSR Congress will sweep the 18 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency for which bypolls are being held in the state on Tuesday a crucial contest that has been dubbed a mini general election in Andhra Pradesh.
The results will be a slap on the Congress and TDP. The Congresss political vendatta in arresting my son and harassing him will prove to be their undoing, she said. All indicators say Vijayalakshmi,who has been leading the YSR Congress campaign since Jagans arrest on May 27,will be proved right on counting day on June 15.
An indication of the importance attached by the three parties to these bypolls was the amount of cash seized in the 18 constituencies during the campaign Rs 35 crore which was Rs 7 crore more than the amount seized in the entire state during the 2009 general elections. Amid cross-complaints by all parties,the Election Commission also seized thousands of cellphones and lakhs of liquor bottles.
The by-elections were necessitated due to resignations by 16 MLAs of the Congress and one each of the TDP and the then Praja Rajyam Party,who shifted loyalties to Jagan and were disqualified by their respective parties and suspended from the Assembly. The YSR Congress has fielded all the MLAs who resigned. However,its not sympathy and support for Jagan alone that will help these MLAs.
With the powerful Reddy community shifting its loyalty from the Congress to Jagan,and taking with it a huge chunk of the BC,SC and ST votes,the YSR Congress Party is expected to not just sweep all the seats in Rayalaseema but also take a majority of the nine Coastal seats.
The 18 constituencies are spread across 12 districts: eight in Rayalaseema,nine in Coastal Andhra,and one in Telangana. The Lok Sabha constituency that is going to polls is Nellore in Chittor district.
For the Congress,the results are extremely crucial. If the YSR Congress Party wins the most seats,it is likely to trigger an exodus of Congress MLAs and the YSR Congress may move a no-confidence motion.
If the Congress manages to win at least half the 18 seats then it may revive the fledgling morale in the party and regain some lost political ground. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is mostly in the third place everywhere.
The Congress had a hard time even selecting candidates as no one was ready to contest against YSR Congress Party nominees who are all former Congress members.