“Ravali Jagan, Kavali Jagan (Jagan must come, we want Jagan)” The “silent” voter in Andhra Pradesh has spoken. By voting out the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the state has dealt a double blow to incumbent Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s twin ambition of playing kingmaker in the formation of the next government at the Centre, and building a “dream capital” in Amaravati.
Leads from 175 Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats show the YSR Congress Party is heading for a landslide victory. The party is expected to win anywhere above 150 seats in the Assembly and at least 24 seats in Parliament. The mandate handed to Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress Party was much like how his father, the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, wrested the state from Naidu in 2004.
With all the 15 ministers in Naidu’s cabinet, including his son Nara Lokesh, set to lose, it gives a measure of the anti-incumbency wave, the extent of which even YSRCP insiders hadn’t anticipated.
What also worked in the YSRCP’s favour was Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena and its allies — BSP and Left parties — cutting into the TDP’s vote share. In the last Assembly election, the difference in vote share between the TDP and YSRCP was 2.6 per cent. And the margin of victory was less than 5,000 votes in around 40 seats, showing how a vote share swing of even one-two per cent could have had ended in a windfall for the YSRCP.
The Jana Sena, which did not contest in 2014, but extended support to the TDP, has now come back to bite the ruling party by polling over 6 per cent of the votes. Interestingly, Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan, who contested from two constituencies is trailing in the Gajuwaka and Bhimawaram seats. Of the 140 assembly seats the Jana Sena contested, the party is leading only in the Razole seat. Jana Sena also contested in 18 Lok Sabha seats, with the party throwing its weight behind Visakhapatnam candidate JD Lakshminarayana, who headed the disproportionate assets probe against YSRCP chief Jagan. However, the former CBI officer is set to finish third behind the YSRCP and TDP.
Traditionally, the party that wins a bulk of the assembly segments in East and West Godavari tend to form the government. The coastal belt has a substantial chunk of voters of the Kapu caste. It was the Kapu votes that Kalyan added to the TDP’s vote bank in 2014, which helped Naidu return as CM after spending 10 years out of power. However, this time the Kapu community was angry over its demand for reservation in jobs and educational institutions not being met, and appears to have voted as a bloc for the YSRCP, despite the party being surprisingly non-committal on the issue.
Another significant factor that seemed to work for Reddy’s party was its drive to match the TDP’s welfare schemes. Jagan—with his nine core election promises known as navaratnalu—has matched the TDP sop for sop, whether it is financial assistance for farmers or an increase in pension amount. The TDP was also banking heavily on women votes after its Pasupu Kumkuma scheme reached nearly 1 crore beneficiaries who are part of self-help groups. TDP leaders had also claimed that by increasing the pension amount, just a few months before elections were announced, turned the tide in its favour. During the election campaign, TDP leaders also claimed there was a ‘silent wave’ which would return the party to power. However, all their hopes seem to be blown away by the fan, the YSRCP’s election symbol.
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