Andhra Pradesh- The multi-faceted political saga of a south-Indian state

Andhra Pradesh is among few states facing witnessing simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections. Elections to the 175 Assembly seats and the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, will see a single-phase election, to be held on April 11, 2019. Results to the Assembly and Lok Sabha Elections will be announced on May 23, 2019, with the counting of votes taking place on the same day.

After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into two in 2014, this is the first time that the state is undergoing assembly elections. And for the first time, the big fight is between regional players-the 37-year-old Telugu Desam Party (TDP), led by Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, and the eight-year-old Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress (YSRC), steered by Naidu’s staunch rival Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.

With the prime focus on regional parties, the Congress and the BJP are fighting to strengthen their stake as well. Also, in the fray are the Congress, Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena, which has tied up with Left parties, and the BJP.

The fight is a multi-cornered fight in the state with no major parties contesting in alliances. The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which contested previous state elections in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP), is going it alone this time.

What does the poll survey say?

As the truncated state is inching closer to its first independent Assembly polls, the voters are set to elect a fresh government.

A survey conducted by the Association for the Democratic Reforms (ADR) reveals that voters in poll-bound Andhra Pradesh have rated the performance of the incumbent N Chandrababu led-government as “below average” across the state.

The ADR survey gives a sneak peek of the voters’ priorities in Andhra Pradesh and how the government performed on it. The survey covered approximately 12,500 respondents across all 25 parliamentary constituencies of the state. They listed their priorities and also rated the performance of the government as ‘good’, ‘average’ or ‘bad’, which were equal to 5, 3 and 1, respectively.

As per respondents, their main priorities were ‘better employment opportunities’, ‘drinking water’ and ‘better hospitals or primary healthcare centres’.

However, the government performed “below average” on all three issues.

The state has witnessed a shake-up in poll alliances after the TDP pulled out of the NDA in 2018 after the Centre refused to grant special status to Andhra. While Naidu’s party has voiced support for the Congress-led alliance at the national level, the two parties have chosen to contest independently in Andhra. This after the poll debacle in neighbouring Telangana, where the Prajakutami alliance which comprised of the Congress and the TDP failed to garner much support.

Chandrababu Naidu

Nara Chandrababu Naidu became the first CM of Andhra Pradesh after its division. He is holding the position since 2014. Earlier, he also served as the CM for the united Andhra from 1994 to 2004.

As the president of Telugu Desam Party(TDP), he led his party to a thumping victory in the 2014 assembly elections, with the TDP winning 102 of the 175 assembly seats. In the Lok Sabha polls too, the TDP-BJP combine emerged with the highest tally in the region.

The TDP had remained the BJP’s ally since 1998 and the party had sailed with it even in its bad times between 2004 and 2014. The TDP was only next to the BJP’s older allies such as the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.

However, after he broke the alliance with BJP, Chandrababu Naid became a key player in the 2019 ‘mahagathbandhan’ or grand alliance saga.

Who is YS Jaganmohan Reddy?

Yeduguri Sandinti Jaganmohan Reddy (YS Jaganmohan Reddy), also known as Jagan, who aspires to become Andhra Pradesh chief minister will contest from his family pocket borough Pulivendula in Kadapa district.

Denied chief ministership by the Congress after his father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s death in 2009, Jagan had quit it a year later and later floated his own party. He was also in jail for 16 months in connection with graft cases.

Amid the political hullabaloo of the present election season, when every party is scrambling to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance or be seen to forge the opposition’ grand alliance, Reddy by-far stood aloof. He had maintained equidistance from both the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the grouping of opposition parties.

The YSR Congress Party, led by Jagan Reddy remained and continues to hold sway over the Rayalaseema region of the state, kept the pressure on raking up the idea of a special status for the state after the bifurcation while Naidu’s promise of a building a capital city Amaravati hit several roadblocks and the city is still in the making all these five years.

Jagan’s base in Rayalaseema has expanded considerably in size while Naidu’s TDP faced erosion after Pawan Kalyan, whose support helped the TDP shore up its votes in 2014, announced a party of his own.

Elections 2019

The 2019 elections are the first in the residual state of Andhra Pradesh after the bifurcation in 2014. The TDP won the 2014 Assembly Elections with a comfortable majority of 102 seats, while YSRCP won 67. In the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections, united Andhra had a total of 42 seats under which TDP won 16, TRS 11, YSRCP 9, BJP 3, and Congress 2.

Also, in the 2014 Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, the difference in the vote share of the YSRCP and the TDP-BJP alliance was just around 2 per cent but the latter got 17 Lok Sabha seats as against 8 for the former. With Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu in the opposition camp now, the BJP is banking on a much stronger show by the YSRCP this time.

Andhra has 175 Assembly constituencies and 25 Lok Sabha seats. The fight is not bipolar but a contest between many parties. The incumbent Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu will square off against old ally BJP and Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRCP.

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