Party wins Nellore Lok Sabha and 15 of the 18 Assembly seats in by-elections

The sympathy triggered among people by the arrest of Kadapa MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy translated into votes and seats for his YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) on Friday when it swept 15 out of the 18 Assembly seats and the lone Nellore Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh.

It conceded the Ramachandrapuram and Narasapur Assembly seats to the ruling Congress and lost the lone Parkal seat in Telangana to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi. Though the ruling Congress managed to avoid a total rout in the by-elections, it was crushed by the YSRCP's steam-roller margins elsewhere.

Dubious distinction

Drawing a blank, the Telugu Desam suffered the dubious distinction of not having won a single seat in 41 successive by-elections since 2009. So overwhelming were the majorities notched up by the YSR Congress candidates that the Congress and the TDP forfeited security deposits in six seats each. In some constituencies, their combined vote was less than those of the winner.

In retaining his Nellore Lok Sabha seat, YSR Congress candidate Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy bulldozed former Union Minister and Congress candidate T. Subbarami Reddy by a 2.91 lakh vote margin. The majority of 11,919 in Ramachandrapuram and 4,464 in Narsapur of Congress paled in comparison to 56,891 margin of YSRCP candidate in Rayachoti.

Voters of Parkal constituency provided some food for thought to the TRS by giving its candidate M. Bikshapathi a torrid time during counting when his margins plummeted dramatically and finally electing him by a narrow margin of 1,562 votes. After its defeat at the BJP's hands in Mahabubnagar in March, the TRS now has to reckon with competition in its backyard.

The Congress party's star campaigner Chiranjeevi received a mild jolt when the Tirupati Assembly seat he represented before becoming Rajya Sabha member was wrested by YSR Congress' B. Karunakar Reddy by a margin higher than his in 2009. Moreover, the Congress won Ramachandrapuram, a constituency in which the film star did not campaign.

It was evident from the results that by arresting Jagan, a fortnight ahead of polling, the Central Bureau of Investigation rendered signal disservice to the Congress and the TDP. The enormous crowds, especially women, that thronged roadshows addressed by his mother Y.S. Vijayamma and sister Sharmila, had all the trappings of a sympathy wave waiting to happen. It did, considering the 80 per cent voter turnout and, now, the landslide victory.

This was admitted by TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, but APCC president Botcha Satyanarayana disagreed and stated, quite significantly, that the defeat was due to anti-incumbency and not sympathy. During the campaign, both parties tried to portray Jaganmohan Reddy as corrupt and the TDP dubbed his father too as venal. In the process, they ended up appearing to the voters as cut from the same cloth.