There has been much controversy about GO No 1 of 2023 in AP. While the Government and the ruling party YSRCP have welcomed it wholeheartedly, the opposition parties including TDP and Jana Sena have condemned it. TDP president Chandrababu Naidu and Jana Sena president Pawan Kalyan met a few days ago and addressed a press conference after their meeting. I would like to put forth my impressions having watched the press conference of Babu and Pawan.
1. The body language of both Babu and Pawan showed that they were completely disoriented by the political coup of Jagan in bringing out GO No 1 of 2023. Both of them looked shocked, confused, pale and devoid of any energy.
2. The GO seems to have acted as a morale booster for the entire YSRCP including their leaders and cadre. Each and every one of them seem to be now confident and effusive with regard to the political situation in AP. They now talk with utter scorn and contempt for Babu and Pawan.
3. Both Babu and Pawan had no counter either politically or legally to the GO except saying innocuous things like that it is undemocratic and that it is a legacy of the British.
4. Both Babu and Pawan had not even stated if they had any intention to challenge the GO legally and/or politically. They did not mention of any plan of action to challenge it in the courts or to counter it politically through agitations such as mass protests, “jail bharo” programmes, etc. Thus, they have left their own leaders and cadres of both of their parties directionless.
5. The GO has given a big boost to YSRCP because it has given confidence to their rank and file that whatever may be the public. antagonism towards Jagan and his policies as reflected in large crowds in the recent meetings of Babu and Pawan, situation can be managed at the ground level effectively by making use of the GO. Already, they are aware that YSRCP has successfully stopped Amaravati farmers in their second marathon march at Rajahmundry itself. As a result, Amaravati capital movement is now in disarray.
6. The rank and file of YSRCP believe that Jagan has now scored a huge political victory over Babu and Pavan. All of them are now making comments about Babu and Pawan in the most sneering fashion on every possible occasion.
7. Politically, Jagan has proved that he is always one step ahead of Babu and Pawan, both of whom believe in old style politics. Jagan firmly believes in “post truth” politics which dictate that whatever may be the truth, the spin given to it determines the public perception of it. GO No 1 has given the most favourable spin for Jagan as a firm believer in law & order and in public safety and tranquility. General public now believe that it was Babu who was singularly responsible for deaths of several innocent people in two of his meetings. Assertions by Babu and Pawan in the press conference that the police are responsible for public safety, sound like an afterthought.
8. Jagan has shown that he is politically very alert unlike Babu and Pawan. GO No 1 has given a new lease of political life to Jagan and his party. Babu and Pawan may never again be able to mobilise large crowds as before.
9. It appears that Jagan has been consistently underestimated as a politician by most political pundits. Actually, as a politician, he is of same calibre as Amit Shah and Modi. In fact, Jagan had been in Jail for 16 months as against only 3 months by Amit Shah. Babu and Pawan had never been hardened by any prolonged jail stay.
10. NTR caught the imagination of people by opposing the then most powerful person Indira Gandhi and came to power by starting a regional party called TDP. Similarly, Jagan opposed the then most powerful person Sonia Gandhi and came to power by starting a regional party called YSRCP. Babu and Pawan do not seem capable of taking tough political decisions like NTR and Jagan.
11. Jagan is young, energetic and charismatic. He possesses good oratorical skills. The loyalty that he inspires among his followers is truly remarkable. Babu and Pawan are no match to him in oratorical skills or other leadership qualities.
12. The dedication and loyalty that Jagan inspires is not limited to his party members alone. It extends to the police department and all other departments of the government. As a result, Jagan has become the most powerful CM the country has ever seen.
13. Jagan maintains extremely friendly and cordial relations with the Centre. He has been very supportive of the Central Government which in turn has been very supportive of him, despite Jagan being a non-BJP CM. There is absolutely no reason why the Central leaders would ever consider upsetting the apple art with Jagan, as is being hoped by Babu and Pawan. Hence, Babu and Pawan cannot hope to get any help from the Central leaders vis-à-vis Jagan.
14. Most importantly, Jagan has phenomenal financial resources of his own as well as those of most industrialists and businessmen of the country. Many of these businessmen and industrialists are also supporters of BJP. Babu and Pawan are no match to Jagan in mobilising financial resources for elections.
15. Apart from money power, muscle power is also extremely important for winning elections. Jagan has proved time and again his capabilities by winning each and every by-election with thumping majorities. His win in recent Tirupati by-election is an example. Given the money power and muscle power of YSRCP, it is doubtful, if Babu and Pawan will be able to even put up candidates in all 175 constituencies, let alone win in them.
16. Personal motivation also plays an important role in any leader’s ambitions. Jagan has several cases pending in the courts against him and he would be keen to either win these cases or at least to delay them endlessly. Continuing to remain in power affords him an opportunity to do just that. On the other hand, Babu has no such serious motivation because he has already been CM thrice. Further. due to his old age, his body may not cooperate with him for fighting brutal no-holds barred elections against formidable Jagan and his YSRCP. The recent press conference showed clearly how fragile Babu is right now physically. He has recently lost quite a bit of weight. As regards Pawan, though he would be interested to become CM, it would be too unrealistic for him to even contemplate becoming CM anytime soon because he has not yet built up an effective party machinery for fighting elections.
17. In practical electoral terms, Jagan who had come to power in 2019 with more than 50 percent vote, retains his vote share even today. His vote bank comprising a coalition of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes, Christians, Muslims, Reddys, etc. that he built up before 2019 elections remains intact and stands behind him solidly even today. Further, with the new party BRS splitting anti-Jagan votes, victory for Jagan and YSRCP seems assured in the coming elections, whenever they might take place.
18. Finally, it must be noted that YSRCP is a very young and energetic party. It’s money power and muscle power coupled with the dynamic leadership of Jagan are great assets. The average age of YSRCP members is at least 10 to 15 years less than that of the TDP members. Members of Jana Sena may also be young in age but they do not possess any electoral savvy at the booth level. In any case, with the huge volunteer force and their supervisory system that Jagan has carefully put in place, it would be impossible for anyone to challenge effectively the candidates of YSRCP. Jagan has also introduced the highly visible and effective “GADAPA GADAPAKU” interaction programme for all his existing and prospective candidates. Thus, the cumulative effect of the steps taken by Jagan, may lead to a great victory of YSRCP in all 175 constituencies.
In the final analysis, it may be quite possible for Jagan and YSRCP to continue to remain in power for the next 30 years. It helps that Jagan is now one of the senior most constitutional authorities in India at the fairly young age of 50. Andhra Pradesh looks destined for uninterrupted rule for the next 30 years by Jagan or his nominees.