Three states of suspense

Published on Apr 19, 2004 02:22 AM IST

Will Chandrababu Naidu's bid for a third consecutive term in office in Andhra Pradesh succeed? Will he be able to buck the anti-incumbency wave that was seen in Madhya Pradesh?In Graphics

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PTI | ByAshok Das, Hyderabad

Will Chandrababu Naidu's bid for a third consecutive term in office in Andhra Pradesh succeed? Will he be able to buck the anti-incumbency wave that was seen in Madhya Pradesh?

As the campaign reaches a fever pitch with barely 48 hours left for the first round of polling, pollsters are not sure of the public mood.

Various opinion polls say that there is a two to four per cent swing away from the TDP-BJP combine in the past week. Yet they give enough seats to the combine to come back to power and get a sizeable number of Lok Sabha seats, if not the 36 they had in the dissolved LS.

But Congress leaders like Rajasekhar Reddy debunk the surveys pointing out how they completely missed the public mood in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Political analysts also have their reservations about the poll surveys. "People in Andhra never give split judgments. They always vote one party or group to power with thumping majority," says Seshagiri Rao, an academic.

This election is also different because it is the first time the Opposition is totally united against the ruling party. As a result, there is direct contest in all the 294 Assembly and 42 Lok Sabha seats.

In fact, the TDP came back to power in the 1999 polls helped by a split in anti-TDP votes. This time, however, the Congress has sewn up alliances with the TRS, CPI and CPM to avoid a split in votes.

The emotive issue of statehood for Telangana will also play a crucial roll in the region, which accounts for 16 LS and 107 Assembly seats. The Congress-TRS combine favour a separate state, in tune with the public mood there, whereas the TDP-BJP combine are against the idea.

Another major factor would be Naxalites. They are a force to reckon with and have effectively curtailed campaigning by TDP-BJP candidates in their strongholds. They have been campaigning aggressively, asking people to vote out the ruling party.

Though Naidu has been claiming that there is a pro-incumbency wave in his favour, the Opposition contests this. They cite rising unemployment, high power and water tariffs and suicides by farmers and weavers to justify their argument.

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