Monday, June 24, 2024

Arrogance, disconnect proved costly for YSRCP

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What gave the alliance of the Telugu Desam Party, Jana Sena Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party this stunning victory? How come Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) has been washed out from almost all districts in Andhra Pradesh? What are factors that worked in favour of the alliance to create an all-time record in the polls?
Two things proved very costly for YSRCP. Firstly, arrogance of its leadership that had percolated to the ward level, with almost all YSRCP leaders in between behaving like monarchs. They started threatening people around them and in some places they even attacked or filed cases against common people for questioning or not following their diktats. This resulted in a build-up of animosity among large sections of people towards YSRCP. Particularly in Godavari districts and most of the north coastal Andhra region, YSRCP leaders had started behaving like kings and created mayhem in public life. Filing of cases against political detractors, ‘settlements’ made by even petty leaders of the party, and open extortions by power-drunk local leaders had become rampant in some districts. All of these pushed people to think twice before they voted, despite having been pampered with dollops of welfare benefits by the Jaganmohan Reddy government. Adding fuel to the fire, the unconvincing official narrative on the bogey of pitfalls of the Land Titling Act raised by opposition parties created panic among voters in coastal districts, where most people depend on small holdings of less than 2 acres. The opposition’s propaganda on the Land Titling Act had exacerbated fears about the YSRCP’s designs, with some senior bureaucrats openly detailing the travails they themselves had faced with regard to their ancestral lands.
Secondly, there was palpable lack of coordination within YSRCP during electioneering. Everyone knows TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu is a past master at electioneering. Unfazed by this, YSRCP had left its electioneering to political advocacy group Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC). It was I-PAC that had determined distribution of money and finalization of the poll strategy at many places, leaving locally influential party leaders in disarray and disbelief. Their bits of advice, proffered as based on the ground situation, were not heeded and no money came to them for discretionary spending. Naturally, these leaders chose not to stretch themselves during electioneering, much less at the time of polling. This caused enormous damage to YSRCP. In several constituencies, local leaders, peeved at not getting anything from the party high command, did not participate actively in the election process. They chose not to spend anything on their own by unnecessarily stretching their finances. So, at many places, YSRCP candidates fought a lone and losing battle, with no support from the cadre, leave alone the high command. They were left to their own devices and forced to lean on I-PAC as their sounding board without knowing whether their problems would be ultimately addressed. This disconnect between the party high command and its Assembly candidates proved very costly for YSRCP.
During his five-year stint, Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy had ensured corruption-free disbursement of benefits under various welfare schemes. The mounting bills related to the plethora of welfare schemes left the Jagan government with little or no money for tangible developmental works. Besides, small-time contractors in YSRCP failed miserably to get any additional streams of income during YS Jagan’s five year term. Such influential circles eventually became indifferent, despite having rich potential to fund local candidates during the elections as traditional money bags.
The wheel turned full circle, when, riding high a day after World Bicycle Day (June 3), the Telugu Desam Party (whose election symbol is bicycle) created history in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections by winning a record number of seats. The landslide victory of the TDP-Janasena-BJP combine is clearly the result of TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu’s perseverance and Janasena chief Pavan Kalyan’s political shrewdness. They both deftly steered the alliance to make it a game changer not just in AP, but also at the national level.
All told, Chandrababu Naidu is once again going to play a key role in national politics. He was part of the NDA government between 2014 and 2019. He left the NDA before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and joined the Congress-led UPA alliance to lose in both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Soon after the loss, he had distanced himself from the Congress. He became a part of the NDA in March 2024, perceptibly as an underdog, just a few days before the national elections were announced. Today, he has gained an upper hand over BJP, the dominant partner of the alliance.
During these elections, unlike YSRCP, both TDP and JSP showed utmost patience till they achieved their target. They remained calm and composed against massive trolls in the social media about their ‘compromised’ seat-sharing process. Pavan in particular proved to be lot maturer than any other ‘inexperienced’ political leader by accepting fewer seats to pave way for a formidable alliance before the elections. His extraordinarily down-to-earth approach against all odds paid rich dividends to the fledgling Jana Sena Party, which won 100 per cent of the seats it contested.

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