Friday, July 19, 2024

Ratna Column :Will ‘CM hopefuls’ scuttle efforts for ‘united opposition’ in AP?

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The talk of a ‘united opposition’ in Andhra Pradesh seems to be losing its steam because of the enthusiasm shown of late by Telugu Desam Party leader N. Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan as ‘CM hopefuls’. Both the leaders are exuding confidence that they can unseat the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy.

Post bifurcation, the residual Andhra Pradesh looks just like the Andhra state that had been carved out of the composite Madras State in 1953, following the demand of the Telugu people for a separate state on linguistic basis in line with the resolution of the Indian National Congress in 1936. Instead of moving towards a new era of development, perhaps with help from the Union government as per the AP Reorganisation Act-2014, the residual AP state has incurred heavy losses, particularly by losing Hyderabad. Today, AP is saddled with a deficit of Rs.16,000 crore. The debt burden has crossed Rs.3.6 lakh crore.

As thing stand today, there are no funds for development or creation of community assets. Still, both TDP and JSP supremos are eagerly waiting for their ‘turn’ and are seeking a chance to rule.

Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy seems to be unfazed by the headwinds. He is preparing for the next electoral battle and has been readying his legislators. He has urged them not to neglect the promising Gadapa gadapaku mana prabhutvam programme.

He believes that the programme to provide administration at people’s doorstep would easily fetch another chance to his MLAs. It is a different matter whether Jagan would give tickets to all the legislators and ministers. Jagan is banking also on the plethora of his government’s welfare schemes, including ‘Navaratlalu’.

Despite the high confidence levels in the ruling party, people may weigh welfare schemes in the context of the state’s fiscal health. If the anti-incumbency factor works even at the minimum level due to show of money power at the hustings; YSRCP will benefit from the emerging situation. If the situation turns out to be different in some way, the atmosphere will be useful for the opposition.

The larger question is: Can the opposition cash in on the perceived administrative failures like non-completion of Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project, ban on the liquor sales and consumption, failure in getting Special Category Status for AP, loss of confidence in a section of government employees due to rejection of the PRC recommendations, railway zone for Visakhapatnam, and dilution of the spirit of Amaravati as the sole capital by positing three capitals, among others?

At one point JSP president Pawan Kalyan announced that they won’t allow split in anti-establishment vote bank against ruling YSRCP. This created flutter in YSRCP cadres and leaders as data of the 2019 polls suggested that the combined votes were higher than those polled by YSRCP in several constituencies.

What happened to the talk of unity of opposition? How will it be achieved? Such questions have given room for belief that there may be an electoral understanding between the two. Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan have yet to give a final shape to their alliance. Any talk of relative shares of seats regardless of the ground reality would be detrimental to the interests of both the political forces.

Once can understand if both the opposition parties get an opportunity to rule the state in the event of YSRCP facing an adverse situation. It would be fine on their part to think about better future with the confidence that they have in people. They should cross the bridge when they come to it, when it comes to projecting the chief ministerial face.

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