Assembly Elections 2019: In Andhra, a do-or-die battle for both Chandrababu Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy
Andhra Pradesh went for simultaneous polls for 175 assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the first phase of elections on April 11 in a do-or-die battle for 69-year-old Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu and 46-year-old Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSR Congress.
The TDP had won 102 seats in the last assembly elections in 2014 with a vote share of 44.6% while the YSRCP bagged 67 seats and 44.4% votes. A difference of just 0.2 percentage points separated the two parties.
The Congress managed to get just 2.8% votes, from a vote share of 40.7% in the 2009 election and failed to open its account. The party that once dominated the state has now been relegated to the margins.
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On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had a limited presence in the state earlier, won two seats in the assembly in alliance with the TDP in 2014.
Naidu had to address the issue of anti-incumbency among the people due to non-fulfilment of many promises and incomplete works on his dream capital Amaravati and major irrigation project Polavaram.
The chief minister also fought a high-voltage battle with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the national level by bringing all the anti-BJP forces together. Throughout the campaign, Naidu has focused on attacking Modi for betraying the state by not fulfilling the promises made in the bifurcation act. But the Yuvajana Sramika Rytu Congress has accused him of blaming Modi to cover up his failures in the last five years.
Welfare schemes such as doubling of old age pensions, Pasupu-Kunkuma offering Rs 10,000 cash benefit to each of 94 lakh self-help group women and Rytu Rakshana scheme for welfare of farmers were what the ruling TDP has been banking on.
Jagan’s YSRC build up anti-incumbency by exposing various omissions and commissions of the TDP government in the last five years. It also offered navaratnas — a basket of nine welfare programmes — besides invoking the ‘welfare raj’ of Jagan’s father and Congress former chief minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy during 2004-09 to counter the rival party.
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The clash between Telangana and Andhra over sharing of river waters, distribution of assets and regional sentiment stoked by denial of special category status by the NDA regime was also brought up during campaigning.
The TDP’s president Naidu contested from Kuppam, while his son Nara Lokesh made his electoral debut from Mangalagiri. Jaganmohan Reddy fought from Pulivendula. Jana Sena’s Pawan Kalyan contested from two seats — Bhimavaram in West Godavari and the Gajuwaka constituency in Visakhapatnam — in his first ever time in the election fray.