New Delhi, Apr 7 : The BJP hardly matters in electoral games in Andhra Pradesh. But the current scenario in Congress in the state is certainly not what many leaders would have wished.
The battle in the Deccan state is between TDP of N Chandrababu Naidu and YSR Congress Party chief Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Is Jagan Mohan Reddy thus only a case of flash in the pan?
In the political circle in the state – both prior to and after bifurcation – the refrain often heard has been that Jagan is a man of future; whom Andhra Pradesh is waiting for. His party leaders say – the moment has come and Jagan will soon have his tryst with destiny.
One party leader Prabhakar Rao said, “If Sonia Gandhi had allowed Jagan to be Chief Minister after his father’s death, he would not have been a good Chief Minister”.
Another admirer of Jagan's brand of politics – revealing a new level of maturity and determination – says: “Some years back, Jagan was just a son of a leader (Y S Rajasekhara Reddy). Today, he is a mass leader”.
Many feel such euphoric description may not be out of context. At least Jagan has shown the guts to survive amid adversaries – TDP supremo Naidu on one hand -- and dealing with the supposed ‘vindictive politics’ of the Congress party on the other.
The meek do not survive here – goes a Telugu saying and people relate this to the drab and semi-arid terrains of Rayalseema region – a known stronghold bastions of YSR Congress party.
“The politics of Andhra Pradesh is heading for a multi-cornered contest and the BJP is an important player,” says BJP leader P Murlidhar Rao.
But there is apparent acknowledgment even in BJP and Congress circle Jagan is the ‘challenger’ perhaps inching towards power in the state while old warhorse Chandrababu Naidu is sweating it out to defend his throne.
According to YSR Congress leader Rao, the TDP had substantial strength in Andhra, but the ground is slipping towards Jaganmohan Reddy. The Congress and the BJP remain minor players.
The Jagan camp also believes that a major worry for the TDP is for which side the 16 percent Kapu community will vote. Cine actor Pawan Kalyan’s party will split the lion’s share of this community votes and this will help YSR Congress, they say.
In the entire drama, movie star Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena is also trying to make the presence felt in a state which will send 25 lawmakers to the Lok Sabha.
Andhra Pradesh, thus, can become an important player in the event of a hung Parliament.
Left to his own political training – punctuated with lot of Padyatras – Jagan Mohan Reddy and his party colleagues feel – the rise of YSR Congress as the third force in the state is itself a significant development.
The political campaign of the YSR camp during last few years and also in the run up to the polls – second state assembly polls since bifurcation – and the parliamentary elections – has been often dramatic.
“Jagan kept the emotional card tactfully. He played victim card suggesting both the Congress and TDP have tried to victimise him because he kept the YSR legacy alive. This is crucial in Andhra Pradesh and also in Telangana because two principal public passions the films and the politics often amalgamate,” says a long time Andhra Pradesh watcher Vijay Bhaskar.
Politically, YSR as a party is not new in the game. In 2011, Jagan’s by-election win and of his mother Y S Vijayamma for a seat in the state assembly were foregone conclusion.
But TDP and Congress leaders have always said that YSR has only ‘reaped’ the benefits of good works of Congress regime and especially under his father YSR.
But there can be no denying that his party has steadily gathered steam. In fact, one campaign line of Jagan’s party is – sheer politics of opportunism by Congress and TDP have harmed the state.
“There was no government and no opposition and YSR Congress under Jagan stepped into the vacuum space confidently,” says a RSS leader from temple town Tirupati.
YSR Congress Party has also campaigned successfully – that TDP supremo Mr Naidu has always tried to take advantage of BJP’s stint in power in the Centre (under Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi) but did not hesitate to leave BJP when such opportunities came.
The YSR camp says there is already ‘nervousness’ in the TDP as Mr Chandrababu is clearly facing the ‘toughest challenge’ in his long political career.
“It is due to this complexity and fear psychosis, Naidu is playing optics and mobilised support of players like Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He wants to get votes trying to project himself as PM-material while the fact of the matter is his days are over as Chief Minister,” one YSR sitting MP sums up. (UNI)