Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Ratna Column :Fight between united opposition and Jagan imminent!

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A tough fight appears certain between a united opposition and the ruling YSRCP-led YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government during the 2024 Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh. Towards this end, efforts are being made by the Telugu Desam Party and the Jana Sena Party. Ideologies apart, both the parties are now one in condemning the ruling party for using the official machinery to ‘suppress’ dissent.  

The YSRCP government has decided not to allow road shows by political parties and to allow only public meetings at approved venues with prior permissions. G.O. No.1 has been issued for the purpose. The recent stampedes at Kandukuru and Guntur, following TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu’s road shows, in which eleven people lost their lives in all, triggered the issue of the controversial GO. The YSRCP government blamed the TDP for the tragic incidents.  

Noticeably, the GO comes ahead of the Padayatra that N Lokesh, TDP national general secretary and son of Chandrababu, has planned from Kuppam to Srikakulam as well as the Bus Yatra announced by JSP chief Pawan Kalyan.  It is normal for a political party to take out road shows for spreading its message to people. In the process, traffic snarls can be expected in lanes and bylanes. Stampedes are not common, but when they do take place, political detractors try to get mileage out of it. The YSRCP had also organised numerous road shows during YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s padatatra when it was in the opposition.

TDP and JSP, being opposition parties, need to reach out to people mainly through road shows. It is simply not possible for any political party to always organise public meetings at sprawling grounds. Moreover, road shows give the appearance of ‘packed audience’ to onlookers and serve the purpose of political parties. Interestingly, even on the day on which the GO took effect, Jaganmohan Reddy participated in a road show at Rajahmundry before addressing a programme arranged by the government.

Opposition parties have slammed the restrictions placed on organising road shows as autocratic and drawn a parallel with what happened during the Emergency period. Recently Pawan Kalyan was forcibly confined to a hotel room in Visakhapatnam by the police, citing restrictions in vogue. Chandrababu met Pawan at Vijayawada to express his solidarity with the JSP leader. Chandrababu too had faced a similar situation when he visited Kuppam for a road show. Pawan met Naidu at the latter’s residence in Hyderabad in reciprocation.

Pawan has declared that he would not allow a split in anti-Jagan votes, but ensure that such votes are cast in favour of a ‘viable opponent’ of the ruling YSRCP. The Communist Party of India has welcomed the efforts of TDP and JSP in joining hands for unseating YSRCP. If other like-minded political forces follow suit, there could be united opposition to take on the Jaganmohan Reddy government.

Jagan has been exhorting his cadre to be ready for an intense fight to defeat the TDP this time. According to him, the 2024 elections are possibly the last one for Chandrababu, who could become too old by the 2029 elections. So, defeat of Chandrababu now would mean there would be no opposition party worth the name for YSRCP, which wants to rule for the 30 years.

There are many constituencies that witnessed significant numbers of votes polled by TDP and JSP in the 2019 elections. Hence, they have come together. Both parties may seek the support of other parties like BJP, CPI(M) and BSP. Communists parties may not like to join hands with a front in which BJP is a partner.

TDP founder and four-time chief minister of erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh NT Rama Rao had shown the way for an alliance in such circumstances. NTR had seat sharing agreement with BJP as well as Left parties during his rule. Pawan Kalyan might follow the strategy of NTR for the purpose of building a united opposition as he enjoys the status of friend of BJP.

People of Andhra Pradesh will also see how Bharat Rastra Samiti (BRS) influences them in the upcoming elections. Jagan is compelled to be in the good books of Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to DA cases pending against him in the courts of CBI and ED.However, Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao has vowed to work for defeating Modi this time at any cost. He is crafting strategies to reach out to the people of Andhra Pradesh.

He recently made it clear that should the Modi government complete privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), the BRS would bring it back to people. These words of KCR have created much interest among AP people. Let us watch how the ultimate political drama unfolds in AP in the days ahead.

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