With erstwhile Congress leaders likely to get drubbed in the region, the battle for Seemandhra is all about the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress. While it’s a crucial election for TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, who might end up taking political sanyas if the results don’t go his favour, YSR Congress president Jaganmohan Reddy will leave no stone unturned to become the first chief minister of the region. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
Seemandhra is voting for its first government on Wednesday and all eyes are on the two parties which are locked in a battle with each other -- the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress.
In neighbouring Telangana one has seen the battle of words turning ugly on several occasions. However, it has been a different contest in Seemandhra where the battle has been more about planning and strategy. There were certain instances of badmouthing as well, but it was nothing compared to what was seen in Telangana.
A lot is riding for both the regional powerhouses, TDP and YSR Congress, in Seemandhra. YSR Congress president Jaganmohan Reddy is looking to prove that he is the tallest leader in the region and would like to become the first chief minister of Seemandhra at any cost.
For TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu the battle is equally important. He could well be relegated to political sanyas if he loses this time round, following an unimpressive show in the previous two elections.
There are 25 Lok Sabha and 175 assembly seats at stake in the region. The Congress, which was the leader in Andhra Pradesh for two consecutive terms, is sure to bite the dust this time in Seemandhra. There is nothing they could do to salvage some pride as they have been termed as “villains who divided the state”.
This leaves the battlefield open to the TDP and the YSR Congress, and currently the battle looks interesting.
Both have their advantages and it appears that the TDP, thanks to the Bharatiya Janata Party combine, has a slight edge over its rival in the Lok Sabha segment. The YSR Congress, on the other hand, looks like the leader in the assembly segment.
While the YSR Congress has a lot going in its favour, the only thing that could go against it is if the people decide to vote for the TDP on the ground that it would be part of the national government with the BJP.
Many people feel that it would be advantageous to have the same party in the state and at the Centre. However, in the rural areas, there is a great YSR sentiment and clearly as a leader Jagan has looked more impressive than Naidu and this could be the saving factor for the party.
Meanwhile, Naidu is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the victory of his party. Given his technical bent of mind, he has formed the Force Pyramid comprising over 900 techies who give him minute to minute updates from each and every constituency. This includes the strategy of his rivals as well.
Interestingly, Force Pyramid has helped the TDP and the BJP a great deal and they managed to call Jagan's bluff who was playing a psychological game. He kept assuring the BJP indirectly of support at the Centre and to a large extent the saffron party had become complacent. However, Naidu’s team caught on to this and passed on the information as a result of which the BJP-TDP combine became smarter.
This election is very important to the people of Seemandhra. They have taken the bifurcation to heart and there is a great deal of insecurity among the people of the region.
Although leaders in Telangana have spoken about peaceful co-existence, the people of Seemandhra say that once the bifurcation happens they are sure to meet with a No Entry board in Telangana. The majority of the educational institutions are in Telangana and the students feel that they need to have good institutions in Seemandhra as well.
Hyderabad, an economic engine, also falls under Telangana and this place has a big job market. With bifurcation the Seemandhra residents feel that they will be denied an opportunity.
Hence, the entire poll plank is about creating a new state which would be state of the art. They need a new capital, a lot of infrastructure, etc. The TDP is pitching heavily on this front and says that Naidu has the experience and only he can build a new state.
Naidu has proven himself in the past to be an excellent administrator, but the drawback is that he was good in the case of Hyderabad only and the farmers felt ignored by him.
Jagan, on the other hand, is inexperienced and this is something that weighs on the minds of the people. However, some feel he has a dictatorial attitude and there are a few who feel that he will be able to deliver the goods due to this no-nonsense attitude.
In all 333 candidates will battle it out for the 25 Lok Sabha seats while 2,243 are in the fray for the assembly segment in Seemandhra.
The region has a political dominance of the Reddys who form of 6.5 per cent of the vote. The other two major communities are the Kammas and Kapus who form 4.8 and 8 per cent respectively.
The Kapu votes which got polarised a great deal after actor-turned Congress politician Chiranjeevi, who is part of the community, entered the fray will be the deciding factor to a large extent.
The Chiranjeevi wave is absent thanks to him being part of the Congress, but his brother Pawan Kalyan campaigning for the BJP seems to have pulled a large number of the Kapu votes.
The Kamma votes will ideally go to the TDP thanks to Naidu.
The TDP will be gunning hard for the urban, Kamma and Kapu votes. The YSR Congress, which is confident of getting all the Reddy votes, will also rely heavily on the Dalit Christian votes which constitute 20 per cent of the population. Jagan, like his father Y S Rajashekhar Reddy, had converted to Christianity and this helps in earning this vote bank for him.
Image: Jaganmohan Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu