As Andhra Pradesh begins long wait for election results, it’s Jagan versus the rest

The YSRCP’s election fight rested solely on the Chief Minister’s shoulders, say political experts; the ruling party looks to have an edge in Rayalaseema while the alliance seems to have fared well in coastal A.P.

Updated - May 15, 2024 10:57 am IST

Published - May 13, 2024 08:29 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy addressing the public during his campaign. File.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy addressing the public during his campaign. File. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The electorate of Andhra Pradesh exercised their franchise for the 175 Assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha seats on May 13

A.P. was listed under the fourth phase of the general elections and is simultaneously going for the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Elections were organised for the entire State, and a high voting turnout of 67% was witnessed as of 5 p.m.. However, the election was marked by violence in some parts of the State.

Similar to 2014, this election also witnessed a direct fight between the (YSRCP) YSR Congress Party and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) comprising the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Jana Sena Party (JSP). But a tour of the polling stations revealed a unique aspect, which was quite different from the elections in 2014 and 2019.

Though on paper it is a fight between the YSRCP and the alliance, on the ground it is a direct tussle between Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and the might of the alliance.

Though the election result will be declared on June 4, it is difficult to predict who will come out on top. One thing, however, is clear going by the mood of the voters: the election was a fight between Mr. Jagan and the alliance.

Whether it will be a sweep either by the YSRCP or the alliance, or if it is a close contest with either side narrowly emerging as the winner, the deciding factor will be between Mr. Jagan’s popular Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu’s development pitch.

One thing that has become apparent is that the ruling party’s electoral battle has solely relied on Mr. Jagan’s shoulders. With the help of his well-executed DBT schemes, he struck a personal chord with voters. His strategy of equating himself as a family member of the voters has also been an impactful aspect in the run-up to the elections.

The performance of his party and his leaders had taken a backseat, and anti-incumbency was to the fore. This probably forced him to drop almost 80 of his sitting MLAs from the election fray and nominate other candidates in their place.

The electorate also stands to be divided between regions. While experts say that there is some edge for the YSRCP in the Rayalaseema region, the alliance has gained traction in coastal A.P. Experts also feel that the campaign has been a high-octane one, and a few last-minute pitches such as the Land Titling Act could have a bearing on the outcome.

The intensity of the fight is clearly visible from the violence and pitched battles reported from some of the key constituencies in Palnadu, Guntur and Chittoor districts apart from some other places. This is a stark difference from the 2014 and 2019 elections which were largely peaceful. But the important thing is that a large number of voters came out to vote braving the heat and stood for hours in queue to cast their vote. This could swing the verdict either way. It can either be read as an anti-incumbency vote with people wanting a change, or an expression of support to the ruling party for its welfare schemes, said a senior political scientist, adding that it is too soon to predict the outcome.

Regarding the alliance, it was the combined firepower of Mr. Naidu, JSP chief Pawan Kalyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that propelled its fortunes. The TDP-JSP’s welfare scheme manifesto, in combination with a development agenda, also appears to have found traction with the electorate. But only time will tell whether Mr. Naidu still has the image of a ‘CEO chief minister’ and how it will convert to votes.

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