Nandyal for Naidu: Andhra CM should now focus on governance

In the absence of a driving issue, by-elections tend to favour ruling parties. The results of the current set of elections in Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Delhi thus held no big surprises. While the Telugu Desam Party won in Nandyal, the Bharatiya Janata Party won both Panaji and Valpoi in Goa, and the Aam Aadmi Party won in Bawana. In terms of political stakes, Panaji ranked quite high with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar among the contestants. But the verdict was all too predictable with the voters evidently keen on giving the BJP some breathing space in the Assembly after a tightly fought State election earlier this year. In Delhi, the AAP made a comeback of sorts after having lost its deposit in a by-election in April. The jump from a third-place finish to the winner’s slot must have provided some satisfaction for Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is yet to reconcile himself to his party’s inability to expand beyond Delhi. Clearly, the setback in Punjab in March, where the party nursed an ambition to come to power, does not appear to have totally sapped the AAP’s enthusiasm in Delhi.

However, the most keenly fought by-election was in Nandyal, where the main Opposition party, the YSR Congress Party, raised the stakes considerably by calling it a referendum on the policies of Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. Indeed, the election was seen as a contest by proxy between Mr. Naidu and YSRCP leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy. A loss thus would have considerably eroded the moral authority of Mr. Naidu, who still has close to two years before he faces the Assembly election. Nandyal, in the Rayalaseema region, was considered a stronghold of the YSRCP. To add to the importance of the seat, there is a bitter history of defection and betrayal. Nandyal was won by Bhuma Nagi Reddy on the YSRCP ticket in 2014, but he crossed over to the TDP shortly before his death. Shilpa Mohan Reddy, the YSRCP candidate in the by-election, had switched loyalties from the TDP. Quite expectedly, the constituency saw a high-voltage campaign with Mr. Reddy going to the extent of saying there was nothing wrong in shooting or hanging Mr. Naidu for his failure to keep his election promises. The personal attacks, coming close to incitement of violence, forced the Election Commission to intervene and rap Mr. Reddy for violation of the Model Code of Conduct. The TDP thereafter made it a must-win fight, deploying a whole team of ministers to camp in the constituency, as a loss would have been interpreted as a slide in its popular appeal. With the by-election out of the way, Mr. Naidu should be able to look ahead and focus on his development agenda without being distracted by the vitriol of his younger, relatively inexperienced political rival.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 11:40:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/nandyal-for-naidu/article19576702.ece

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