Thursday, April 18, 2024

Ratna Column: Jagan jolted to redraw 2024 poll strategies

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Even a small pebble can cause far-reaching ripples in placid waters. The jolt that AP Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy received from the outcome of the recent MLC polls has apparently prompted him to redraw his 2024 Assembly poll strategies.

The results of the three Graduates constituencies of the AP Legislative Council came as a rude shock to the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP). All these days, the top brass as well as the rank and file of YSRCP were cocksure that the 2024 polls would be a cakewalk for them, given the largesse delivered to the masses as part of the government’s welfare agenda. For, the results of the three Graduates constituencies reflect the mood of people spread over nine combined districts (out of 13) across the state. In the Graduates constituencies of West Rayalaseema (comprising Kadapa, Kurnool and Anantapur districts), East Rayalaseema (Chittoor, Nellore and Prakasam) and North Coastal (Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam) that went to polls; more than seven lakh voters (graduates) exercised their franchise. That means there is a tide against the YSRCP government. These graduates constituencies are spread over 108 assembly seats in the nine combined districts across Andhra Pradesh. In other words, only four Central Coastal combined districts — East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna & Guntur – were left out of these elections. Not less than 5,000 votes were polled in each of the total 108 Assembly segments. That is, out of 175 Assembly constituencies, 108 segments have taken part in this gigantic poll exercise and at least 5,000 voters in each of these seats have turned against the YSRCP government headed by Jagan. In all the three Graduate constituencies, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) nominees have won with huge margins over their YSRCP rivals. The negative outcome in West Rayalaseema constituency is significant because Jagan’s native district of Kadapa falls in this seat. The winner in this constituency, Bhoomireddy Ramgopal Reddy, is a prominent leader of TDP in the Pulivendula area. Jagan may be loath to look at Bhoomireddy’s face just as Nara Chandrababu Naidu may abhor Chevireddy Bhasker Reddy, who had won the native seat of the TDP chief.

Aside from these three Graduates seats, the other categories of seats, viz. Local bodies, and Teachers, have of course been pocketed by YSRCP. However, those are the seats that can be bagged based on the strength of the party in the respective body. Noticeably, Teachers constituencies have gone in favour of YSRCP, though the teachers community per se has been sore at the ways of the government. The state government had strategically kept teachers away from poll duties, risking action by the Election Commission. Despite the odds, YSRCP managed to bag the two teachers constituencies.

As for the MLC elections from the Assembly quota, in which MLAs would elect members for six vacancies, principal opposition TDP is contesting for the seventh seat, creating ripples in political circles. TDP is believed to be short of only one vote. Interestingly, the fate of four TDP MLAs who had switched loyalties to Jagan, will be hanging if TDP issues whip for all its members, including these four. Two YSRCP MLAs have also kept distance from their party. Should both parties issue whips for their members, turncoats would have to defy the whip to please their present boss. In such eventuality, there might be bypolls for those seats. This is something that the ruling party would try to avoid at any cost.

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