Andhra MLC polls, a wake up call for YSR Congress

By, Hyderabad
Mar 29, 2023 12:43 AM IST

In the recent MLC elections of Andhra Pradesh, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) candidates won all three MLC seats and marked the party’s revival in the state. Whereas, the polls seemed to have sounded alarm bells for the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).

The recently concluded elections to Andhra Pradesh state legislative council have sounded alarm bells for the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), indicating a resurgence of the opposition Telugu Desam Party which was virtually written off a couple of years ago, besides paving way for realignment of political forces in the state.

The recently concluded Andhra MLC polls mark a revival of TDP and sounds alarm bells for YSRCP. (ANI)
The recently concluded Andhra MLC polls mark a revival of TDP and sounds alarm bells for YSRCP. (ANI)

The TDP won all the three MLC seats, elections for which were held in graduates’ constituencies on March 13 – one in north-coastal Andhra covering erstwhile combined Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts and two in Rayalaseema, which were considered to be an impregnable fortress for the ruling party.

TDP candidates Vepada Chiranjeevi Rao, Kancharla Srikanth Chowdhary and Bhumireddy Rambhupal Reddy won the MLC seats in the north coastal Andhra, east Rayalaseema and west Rayalaseema graduate constituencies, respectively, with decisive margins.

The TDP also won in the elections to the MLC seats held under MLAs’ quota when its candidate Panchumarthi Anuradha won with 23 votes against the required 22 votes, despite TDP having an effective strength of only 19 MLAs in the 175-member assembly, indicating that four of the YSRC MLAs crossvoted for her.

The four lawmakers – Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy, Mekapati Chandrasekhar Reddy, Anam Vivekananda Reddy and Undavalli Sridevi – have since been suspended from the YSRCP for defying the party line.

Wake up call for Jagan Reddy

The MLC elections’ outcome came as a rude shock to the YSRCP headed by chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, which has been winning all the elections held in the state after it came to power in the 2019 assembly elections with a resounding number of 151 out of 175 seats.

The YSRCP had won over 90% seats in the gram panchayats, mandal parishad and zilla parishads, municipalities and municipal corporations, besides by-election to Tirupati parliamentary seat and Badvel and Atmakur assembly seats. The party even captured Kuppam municipality, the native of TDP president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

But with just around a year left for the state assembly elections again, a loss in the MLC elections, particularly in three graduates’ constituencies, was a setback for the YSRCP.

The three constituencies are spread over nine out of 13 erstwhile combined districts covering 108 assembly segments.

In 2019, of the total 34 assembly segments in three districts of north Andhra, YSRCP won 28 seats and TDP only six seats. And in the Rayalaseema (east) and Rayalaseema (west), the TDP won only seven out of 74 assembly seats, while the YSRCP bagged the remaining 67 seats.

Also, the electorate in the three constituencies comprise urban and educated voters so, the voting pattern reflects the mood of this section of voters.

In fact, the YSRCP did a lot of ground work to win the three MLC seats in the graduates’ constituency – right from the announcement of the candidates at least four months ahead of the elections.

The chief minister entrusted the work to local ministers and MLAs, besides the party in-charges in the regions to ensure that the party wins the seats comfortably.

Yet, the party failed to secure the victory, particularly in Rayalaseema, where the party has been on a strong footing. Even in north coastal Andhra, it was a setback for the party which has announced Visakhapatnam as the administrative capital of the state.

“It doesn’t reflect the mood of the entire state. These voters constitute only about 2% of the total electorate (around 7.2 lakh graduate voters out of the total number of 36.6 million voters in the state). The real voters in the rural areas are solidly behind our party. So, nothing to worry,” said YSRCP general secretary and advisor to the government Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy.

Yet, the TDP feels the MLC elections have come as a much-needed morale booster for the party, though it has a long-way to repeat the show in the assembly elections.

“It clearly reflects the changing mood of people. It is just the beginning of the downfall of the YSRCP and we are confident of wining in the next year’s assembly elections,” party president N Chandrababu Naidu said.

Political analyst Sriram Karri said the MLC election results are certainly a shot in the arm for the beleaguered TDP. “With four new MLCs, the party has found confidence and a voice that there is a mood for change,” he said.

Karri said the ruling YSRCP must be humble enough to “take the results as a wakeup call and make enough course corrections.” “It has to go a long way to ensure the mood for anti-incumbency is a localised exception and not a state-wide phenomenon,” he said.

Realignment of political forces

The MLC election results have also cleared the decks for a possible alliance between the TDP and Jana Sena Party headed by actor Pawan Kalyan in the run-up to the next year’s assembly elections.

Even though, the Jana Sena Party has been in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party on paper, but on ground, there has been no coordination between the two parties.

At the Jana Sena foundation day rally in Machilipatnam on March 14,Kalyan openly admitted that there has “not been any understanding between the BJP and Jana Sena”, because of which he was compelled to look towards the TDP.

That the alliance between the two is on rocks was established in the MLC elections, when the BJP, which was representing the north-Andhra graduates’ constituency in the council, lost the seat by a huge margin. Outgoing BJP MLC P V N Madhav, who secured around 5% of votes, lost his deposit. So did the other BJP candidates in the remaining two graduates’ constituencies.

“The elections have proved that there is a strong anti-incumbency against the ruling YSRCP, but the people didn’t believe the BJP because they feel the party is going too soft towards the YSRCP,” former BJP legislator P Vishnu Kumar Raju said.

Madhav said the party might have to go it alone in the next elections, as there are no signs of an alliance with the Jana Sena Party materialising. “The Jana Sena did not entertain the request to support me in the MLC elections and the party cadres voted for the TDP candidate,” he said.

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    Srinivasa Rao is Senior Assistant Editor based out of Hyderabad covering developments in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana . He has over three decades of reporting experience.

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