Is Jagan on his way to a thumping win?
The political fate of former Kadapa member of Parliament Jagan Mohan Reddy and his mother Vijayalakshmi will be decided with the counting of votes on May 13. Vicky Nanjappa takes stock of the situation at ground zero
At Kadapa, the issue is not about who wins the elections. The primary goal for both the Telegu Desam Party and the Congress is to ensure that they reduce the margin by which Jagan Mohan Reddy wins.
Jagan, who completed his one-month campaign, paints a confident picture. He is sure of winning the elections, but his camp makes it clear that the margin needs to be huge, for them to make an impact on the political dynamics of Andhra Pradesh.
The last time Jagan contested the elections from the Kadapa assembly constituency, he won by a margin of 1.75 lakh. His think-tank says the ones who Jagan plans to lure from the Congress, expect that he will beat his rival by 2.25 lakh votes at least, the margin required for him to show his might.
Kadapa, which goes to polls on May 8, is a hub of activity. It is clear that the Congress and the TDP have worked out all possible strategies to ensure that Jagan's winning margin is reduced.
They feel that this is extremely crucial, since Jagan has boasted about a thumping victory, and has claimed that six months down the line, the end of the Congress would begin.
While Jagan will be contesting the parliamentary seat, his mother Vijayalakshmi would be battling the assembly seat. Both seats fell vacant after they quit the Congress, following differences with the high command.
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Image: Jagan Reddy at a rally in Kadapa
An open challenge to the Congress
Though Jagan has been drawing crowds in large numbers, one cannot gauge a victory on the basis of crowd turnout. His fate will be known only on May 13.
It was during his campaign, that Jagan openly declared war on the Congress. Not a single day went without him targetting the Congress, and its president Sonia Gandhi. He has termed this election as a war between him and Sonia, and says that she will pay for not adopting the policies of his late father Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy.
The Congress does find itself pushed to a corner, since it realises the importance of this by-poll. It is strange but even the Congress has banners of Dr YSR and they continue to claim him as their leader, despite having such a fallout with his son.
The Congress has parked 10 of its ministers at Kadapa to ensure that the elections go at least marginally their way. Earlier, the Congress had allegedly fielded 10 candidates with the name Jagan Mohan Reddy and six candidates named Vijayalaxmi.
This was considered to be a ploy in order to confuse the voter. It is also suspected that the Congress was in a secret pact with the TDP to eat into his winning margin.
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Image: Jagan Reddy's rallies are a show of strength
'Give my son a chance'
While the TDP has fielded Ravindranath Reddy, a weak candidate, in the assembly segment, the Congress has done something similar in the Lok Sabha segment.
During his campaign, Jagan said he was unfazed by events. His mother, however, has not addressed too many rallies. She has preferred door-to-door campaign instead and has visited nearly 600 houses in Kadapa. "Give my son a chance, he will do better than his father," seems to be her mantra.
At the moment, the going looks good for Jagan. But the biggest issue for him continues to be Telangana, which would erupt in the days to come. He has continued to remain noncommittal on the issue.
"It is not in my hands," is all he had to say. However, he will have to take a stand very soon, if at all he plans on furthering his political goals.
His close circle too does not seem to be in a hurry on the issue. "We'll take a stand at the right time," said a party member.
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Image: Jagan's mother Vijaylaxmi (right) with her supporters
Jagan will face reality very soon: Congress
The frequently asked question is, "Will the Congress government in the state survive long enough?" Jagan himself claims that there is no immediate danger to it, but his supporters say the Congress will self-destruct, and that they don't need to do anything.
Depending on his margin of victory, the Jagan camp is expecting at least 40 members of the legislative assembly to cross over after the elections. The Congress, however, denies it, and its leaders, including the chief minister, have retorted that one Kadapa poll is not enough to destroy a party that is so old. "Jagan will face reality very soon," said a Congress leader.
It is very hard to say what the voter is really thinking. On the surface, they seem to be in his favour whenever he was campaigning, but the scenario could be different on the day of the voting. Some of the voters even said that when YSR had died there was clear fudging of the figures in terms of shock deaths and suicides.
Kadapa, which has been a hub of activity, has gone quiet with the campaign ending on Friday. One would only find out which way their votes went on May 13, the day of the results.But going by the mood in Andhra Pradesh, which is glued to this constituency, it is clear that certain changes in the political scenario can be expected.
Image: Jagan Reddy addresses a rally in Kadapa