- Municipal elections give him a renewed mandate
- Fortunes of TDP dip further
- BJP, Jana Sena, Congress are nowhere
The tsunami created by the ruling YSRCP in the municipal elections is even more powerful than the one witnessed twenty one months ago when YS Jagan Mohan Reddy stormed into power. YSRCP won 151 out of 175 Assembly seats and 22 out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 general elections beating the then ruling party TDP black and blue. After more than 20 months in power one would have expected Jagan Mohan Reddy to become somewhat unpopular and Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the opposition stalwart, a little more popular. But no. What was proved in the local body and the just concluded municipal elections was that the popularity of the chief minister has increased and that of the opposition leader has decreased even further compared to the 2019 levels. That is why the recent elections conducted by a not so friendly chief election commissioner, Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, and reported by decidedly biased media, could be termed historic as the victory scored by the ruling party is unprecedented in the annals of independent India.
Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy exhibited rare courage in facing the abusive media and the opposition in his own style and countering the judiciary which was not favourably disposed. The letter Jagan wrote to the Chief Justice of India worked like a silent bullet sending the then chief justice packing. Now the judges in Andhra Pradesh High Court are less harsh on the chief minister and his government. The letter had its effect although nobody, neither the CJI nor the CM, said a word about it.
Jagan was fast in taking important decisions. Some decisions such as three capitals could not be implemented due to litigation. Dispatching a chief secretary like Subrahmanyam was done in a jiffy as the IAS officer opted to resign and not to go to court.
More than anything else, the delivery system the CM had innovated by appointing thousands of volunteers has been working wonders not only in taking the welfare programmes to the doorsteps of the poor people but also in going to the rescue of the people affected by Covid. Their services and the benefits provided by Navaratnalu have rained votes for the ruling party.
There are lessons for the opposition if it is prepared to learn. Naidu and his son Lokesh cannot run the party in AP while living in Hyderabad. They stayed put in the capital city of a neighboring State for most of the days in the last 20 months. They have to relocate themselves in AP and fight their battles if they want to make a mark. They have to realize that their’s is not a national party but a sub-regional party just like the TRS or YSRCP. Naidu did a blunder when he blamed the people for voting for YSRCP in 2019. A senior leader like Naidu who was chief minister for 14 years and an opposition leader for 12 years should have taken the defeat in his stride. He should have introspected, identified his mistakes and owned them up. Using abusive language against the young chief minister, who chose to ignore the tirade, was not received well by the people. Calling YS Jagan Mohan Reddy as Jagan Reddy might have amused the coterie around Naidu but the people in general did not like it a bit. Naidu can improve his stock by eschewing personal attacks against Jagan and concentrating on issues and mobilising the party cadre.
Naidu should realize that he is allowing an opportunity to slip out of his hands by choosing to remain silent on the vital question of privatising the Vizag Steel Plant. Whatever the reasons, Naidu’s inaction is noted by the people. Had he camped in Vizag and built a popular movement against the Centre’s decision to sell away the VSP, his party’s fortunes would have taken a turn for the better.
The less said about the BJP, the Jana Sena and the Congress the better. They are not in the reckoning as far as the people are concerned. According to the polling details provided by the State Election Commission, the YSRCP was polled 52.63 per cent, TDP 30.73 per cent, Jana Sena 4.67 per cent, BJP 2.4 per cent, NOTA 1.07 per cent and Independents 5.73 per cent. The votes in the wards where YSRCP’s candidates got elected unanimously were not taken into account. The YSRCP has got more percentage of votes in these elections that in 2019 elections.
YSRCP has bagged 11 out of 12 municipal corporations. The votes polled in the 12th corporation, Eluru, were not counted on Sunday owing to court directions. The ruling party has won 73 out of 75 municipality. Mydukuru in Kadapa district and Tadiparti in Anantapur have been bagged by the TDP. The AIMIM led by Assaduddin which contested in AP for the first time has won a lone ward in Hindupur municipality.