Jagan's tally of around 6.92 lakh votes crushed D.L. Ravindra Reddy of the Congress by a margin of over 5.5 lakh votes.

Kadapa is where the problems for the Congress in Andhra Pradesh begin. Hyderabad and New Delhi are where they could reach fairly soon. Jaganmohan Reddy's sensational win in the by-election from the Kadapa parliamentary constituency, beating his nearest Congress rival by well over half a million votes, places the State party leadership in a bind and Kiran Reddy's future as Chief Minister in jeopardy. Adding to Jagan's victory is that of his mother Vijayamma from the Pulivendula Assembly segment of the same constituency.

Jagan's tally of around 6.92 lakh votes crushed D.L. Ravindra Reddy of the Congress by a margin of over 5.5 lakh votes. In this by-election, Kadapa's people mostly saw themselves as voting for the memory of Jagan's father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who was the Congress Chief Minister of the State when he died in 2009. Meanwhile, ‘YSR's' widow Vijayamma demolished Vivekananda Reddy, former Agriculture Minister in the Kiran Reddy Cabinet and YSR's brother, with a margin of around 86,000 votes. Jagan led massively in every single segment of the parliamentary seat. In the Pulivendula segment alone, his lead over D.L. Ravindra Reddy exceeded one lakh votes. In the end, the scale of his triumph lent credence to the popular joke that Ravindra's initials stood for “Deposit Loss.” As a matter of fact, barring Jagan and Vijayamma, every single candidate in both Kadapa and Pulivendula lost his or her deposit. That's over 60 persons, including all major party candidates like those of the Congress and the TDP. Chiranjeevi failed to deliver to the Congress even the meagre 63,000 votes that his Praja Rajyam Party candidate got in 2009. This despite the film star campaigning in Kadapa big time.

Kiran Reddy could soon discover what Chief Ministers like Anjaiah, Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy and Marri Chenna Reddy learned before him. That Andhra Congress dissidents have a particular genius for making the lives of their leaders miserable. It shouldn't take much time before Ministers start disobeying his orders, before MLAs start rebelling and troubling him. It could get worse than that, though. Already a strong section of Congress MLAs (including some of the Ministers who supposedly campaigned against him) really owe allegiance to Jagan. A second section of MLAs sits on the fence. A third will simply blackmail their leadership for better positions and portfolios. That's why the size of the winner's margin was always going to be the most important thing in this election. That Jagan would win was known. Also known was that his winning by a gigantic margin could start the unravelling of the Congress in the State. Hence the massive effort by the Congress to keep his margin down.

If the Congress is unable to contain this, there could be defections to Jagan's YSR Congress party. Or some MLAs could stage a drama of simultaneous resignations to force by-elections in several constituencies. The idea being to push Andhra Pradesh towards mid-term elections. If that comes off, the Congress would face a very rough time in all regions. In Telangana, the TRS would likely gain. In coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, Jagan might prove a nightmare. Worse, the Congress has 33 MPs from Andhra Pradesh, more than from any other State. If a number of these declare their allegiance to Jagan, the UPA government at the Centre will find itself between a rock and a hard place.

The TDP, too, has been shown as being in big trouble. Its candidate, Mysoora Reddy, was certainly the best it could put up in Kadapa and he came third. Had he nosed ahead of the Congress candidate, the party could have drawn some comfort. Finishing third despite hard campaigning by Chandrababu Naidu is a blow. With his party tormented and divided by the Telangana issue, this setback raises questions of how effective Mr. Naidu's leadership now is.

But it is the Congress for which the testing times will likely come first. As many political veterans point out, it had the option of not contesting against Jagan and Vijayamma on grounds of respect to its departed leader YSR. Anti-Jagan Congress followers could then have voted for the TDP candidate. Instead the party made it such a high-profile battle that the scale of defeat is humiliating. Particularly for Chief Minister Kiran Reddy, whose time starts ticking now.

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