Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday blamed superstar Chiranjeevi's entry into the political arena for his party's debacle in the simultaneous polls to the Andhra Pradesh assembly and Lok Sabha.
Naidu also refused to accept the verdict as a positive vote for the Congress party saying it retained power by division of votes.
"It was clear from the voting trend in assembly elections that people wanted TDP to come to power," he said while addressing Mahanadu, or the state-level convocation of his party.
The former chief minister said the entry of Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam Party and bureaucrat-turn-politician Jayaprakash Narayan's Lok Satta into the electoral field worked against TDP as these parties split the anti-incumbency vote.
TDP could win 92 seats in the 294-member assembly while it bagged only six of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
This is the first time in TDP's 26-year history that it is sitting in the opposition for the second consecutive term.
In his inaugural address at the two-day conclave, Naidu reminded that though the Congress had come to power in the state again, its vote percentage was only 36.8.
"This is the first time in the history of Andhra Pradesh that a party has come to power with such a meagre share of votes," he said.
The opposition parties together polled 63.2 per cent of votes and the difference in percentage of votes between the Congress and the Grand Alliance comprising TDP, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the two Left parties was only 1.8 percent.
"In many constituencies, the TDP candidates lost the polls with a narrow margin, mainly because of the presence of the PRP and the Lok Satta. Had there not been a split in the anti-establishment vote, we would have won comfortably," he reasoned.
Refusing to see the verdict as a positive vote for the Congress, Naidu argued the ruling party, which bagged 33 Lok Sabha seats, should have won 230 assembly seats, if it were to be a positive vote.
"The Congress has come back to power by default, by polling 1.8 per cent more than the opposition alliance," he asserted.
He declared that the TDP would continue its fight on people's issues and asked the cadre to strengthen the party at the grassroots level.
Voicing concern over the suicide attempt by two party workers over the party's defeat, he asked the cadre not to get disheartened by the result and reminded them that no other party in the country has a strong cadre base like the TDP.
Naidu also clarified that the TDP would stick to its stand in favour of separate statehood to Telangana region.
Dumping its traditional stand against bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, TDP had last year backed the demand for statehood to Telangana.
The TDP chief said it would also implement a cash transfer scheme whenever it comes to power in the state. Under the scheme, the party had promised cash doles of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per month to each poor family.