By K Venkateshwarlu
Amaravati: Even in the worst of his dreams, Telugu Desam Party president, N. Chandrababu Naidu who wears his four-decade long political experience on his sleeve, would not have imagined that one day he would have to face a crushing defeat at the hands of a 46-year-old YSRCP president, Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Having been a contemporary of Mr. Jagan’s father and former Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Mr. Naidu looked upon the young leader condescendingly and never lost any opportunity to ridicule him on “having so many criminal cases”. But the same people dumped and punished him in what appears to be a massive anti-incumbency wave.
However, Mr. Naidu conveniently forget that Mr. Jagan came very close to capturing power in 2014 Assembly elections losing by just 1.6 per cent vote margin. But for his calculative move to forge alliance with BJP and seek support of Jana Sena Party Mr. Naidu would have lost in 2014 itself. In fact all through his political career Mr. Naidu fought elections in the combined Andhra Pradesh in alliance alternatively with Left parties and BJP and once with TRS too and never alone.
This is the first time he has gone alone. Hoping that he has consolidated his position through a slew of welfare schemes, planning a “world class capital”of Amaravati, the Polavaram project and engineering defection of 23 YSRCP MLAs and making four of them as Ministers. His objective was to weaken the YSRCP. So both on governance and political front Mr. Naidu believed he had strengthened his position. Mr. Naidu claimed his government had schemes from birth of a child to senior citizens and for all sections, farmers and unemployed youth. However, there was this just before the elections, capital infusion for women of self help groups, which his Government claimed has reached 97 lakh beneficiaries.
Yet all these have not helped him to return to power leading to the question: Do schemes and development alone fetch votes ? Yes the coverage would not have been “saturation level” as his Government and the Real Time Governance unit would have one believe but was their impact so poor ?. Difficult to conclude but apparently either people’s expectations have gone up phenomenally or they expect the new Chief Minister to do much more than the incumbent.
In a sudden move, Mr. Naidu ditched BJP and walked out of the National Democratic Alliance after cohabiting it for four years over the issue of Special Category Status, after he saw Mr. Jagan taking a lead over it. A highly sentimental issue after “unfair bifurcation” did the people punish him for not pursuing the SCS issue vigorously as was often alleged by Mr. Jagan.
It could be a variety of reasons that could have triggered the collapse of Telugu Desam Party but one should not take credit away from Mr. Jagan for systematically bringing all these before the people and managing to convince them that Mr. Naidu’s claims “were bogus”.
Mr. Jagan beat the seasoned politician at his own game by coming up with better poll management. His 3648 km long padayatra (walkathon) across Andhra Pradesh endeared him to the people. “It helped me to know their sufferings and we came up with Navaratnalu, the nine promises document to meet all their expectations”, he would often recall. He managed to buck the negative image created by Mr. Naidu often citing the CBI cases he was facing.
Mr. Jagan’s aggressive campaign though bordering on personal attack on Mr. Naidu but focusing on corruption and failure in fulfilling most of the election promises he made in 2014, seemed to have finally worked in his favour. People appeared to have responded well to his call to them to give him “one chance” having seen Mr. Naidu’s “evil rule for so many years”. He has been drawing massive crowds during this campaign and his victory shows that it has got translated into votes. People have definitely seen in him a return to “Rajanna Palana”, as his father Rajasekhara Reddy’s rule is remembered and bid a “bye bye” to Mr. Naidu.
By K Venkateshwarlu