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AP goes back to the future

Andhra Pradesh, whose fat tally of 42 Lok Sabha seats has often played a crucial role in determining who gets to rule in New Delhi, went back in this election to an eerie replay of its voting pattern 20 years ago, reports Ashok Das.

india Updated: May 17, 2009 03:46 IST
Ashok Das

Andhra Pradesh, whose fat tally of 42 Lok Sabha seats has often played a crucial role in determining who gets to rule in New Delhi, went back in this election to an eerie replay of its voting pattern 20 years ago. In 1989, the Congress, led by veteran Chenna Reddy, delivered 39 seats to the party, besides getting the Congress to power in the state with 183 assembly seats.

Just so, back in 1989, the TDP had cobbled a coalition of CPI, CPM, BJP and Janata Dal, which failed miserably. While the TDP secured two seats, the other parties drew a blank.

This time, Andhra’s old favourite, the Congress, is ahead in 34 out of its 42 Lok Sabha constituencies and its only ally, the MIM (a Muslim party), is headed for victory in one more seat, Hyderabad, leaving barely seven seats for the opposition.

The difference this time is in the Assembly elections (each Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh has seven segments). Given that the Congress is leading in 34 Lok Sabha seats, it should have done well in 238 Assembly constituencies. But the Congress is leading only in 140 Assembly segments, eight short of a simple majority and lower than its tally of 185 seats in the 2004 Assembly elections.

“This obviously means that the anti-incumbency (factor) against Y S Rajasekhar Reddy did work (in the Assembly elections). But the Congress was ‘saved’ because of the Praja Rajyam Party of actor Chiranjeevi, which proved (the) spoilsport for the opposition by dividing anti-Congress votes,” said a senior minister from Telangana, who was defeated.

The Praja Rajyam Party also fielded candidates for all 42 Lok Sabha seats but could not retain one. Its performance was dismal in all the three regions of the state, particularly in the Godavari delta, the stronghold of Chiranjeevi’s Kapu community.

The grand alliance of TDP, TRS CPI and CPM has fetched only a crushing defeat. The TDP is expected to get barely six seats, while the two Left parties, which had one seat each, may get nothing.

The worst-off in this scenario appears to be the Telengana regional separatist TRS, whose leader K Chandrasekhar Rao went shopping around Delhi last week for post-poll tie-ups and finally announced support for the NDA. However, the party has sunk to two seats from the five it held. While Chandrasekhar Rao himself managed to win in Mahbubnagar, film star Vijayashanti managed to win Medak, in her first election.

“TDP had thought that by tying up with TRS, it could get support in Telangana but people gave the thumbs down to both TDP and TRS and their Left allies,” said Congress spokesperson Tulasi Reddy.

Two Andhra stalwarts, Union Minister Renuka Chowdary and TDP parliamentary party leader K Yerran Naidu have lost, while the BJP, which had promised to get a motion creating Telangana state passed in parliament within a hundred days of coming to power, did not open its account.