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The Rediff Election Special / Syed Amin Jafri

Will the NDA lose Andhra Pradesh?

May 12, 2004

May 11 heralded a historic day in Andhra Pradesh. A nine-year-old government succumbed to anti-incumbency even as the Opposition rode to power on the same factor.

May 13, when the Lok Sabha results will be announced, could see a repeat performance.

The Telugu Desam Party-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in Andhra Pradesh has already been routed in the assembly election. Will it have to face a disastrous result in the Lok Sabha poll as well?

If one looks to history for an answer, it would be a resounding yes.

Simultaneous elections were held 1989 and 1999 and the parties/alliances that won a majority in the assembly then repeated the performance in the Lok Sabha polls as well.

The Congress wrested power from the Telugu Desam led by then chief minister N T Rama Rao in 1989 -- it bagged 180 of the state's 294 assembly seats; the TDP's tally was reduced to 74. It swept the Lok Sabha polls too, winning 39 of the state's 42 seats. Two of the remaining three seats went to the TDP, while one went to the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen.

Similarly, in the 1999 polls, the TDP-BJP alliance, which had secured two-thirds majority by winning 192 of the 294 assembly seats, won 36 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats. The Congress could win only five seats, while the MIM retained its lone seat.

This time too, the trend seems similar. The Congress-TRS alliance, which has a near three-fourth majority in the assembly after bagging 226 of the 294 seats, is sure of a resounding victory in the AP Lok Sabha polls as well. Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy has already predicted that the Congress-TRS alliance will get 36 to 37 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The TDP-BJP combine, which has been reduces to a miniscule 49 seats, refuses to comment; they know that a bad Lok Sabha result here will trouble for the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre.

The exit polls by the various television channels have only added to their woes; NDTV -- which predicted 35 seats for the Congress-TRS-Left alliance, six seats for TDP-BJP combine and one seat for MIM in the Lok Sabha polls -- is indicative of the expected result.

Political pundits and pollsters have worked out a seat-to-seat ratio between the assembly and Lok Sabha results in the case of simultaneous elections. They say a party/alliance garnering two-thirds majority in the assembly polls -- as the Congress-TRS-Left alliance has done in AP -- will get most of the Lok Sabha seats as well.

The vote-share of the two alliances -- the Congress-TRS-Left alliance polled 47.39 per cent of the vote against the TDP-BJP's tally of 40.15 per cent -- also points to a repeat of the assembly poll performance in the Lok Sabha election.

Compared to 1999 polls, the TDP-BJP combine faced a 7.39 per cent negative swing this time while the Congress-led alliance increased its vote share by 3.46 per cent. Certain other parties and independent candidates, including some strong rebels, have also eaten into the TDP-BJP vote share.

The TDP, in fact, seems to put up a bad show when assembly elections are advanced to coincide with the Lok Sabha polls.

In 1989, NTR advanced the assembly polls by almost four months to coincide with the Lok Sabha elections. He not only lost power in the state, the TDP's strength in the Lok Sabha dropped from 30 in 1984 to just two in 1989.

This time, too, Chandrababu Naidu, like his father-in-law, courted trouble by advancing the polls by almost six months. The Lok Sabha polls too were advanced by the NDA, which could prove doubly disastrous for the two allies -- the anti-incumbency that worked against the TDP in the assembly elections could affect the Lok Sabha poll result as well.

The TDP and the NDA perhaps thought simultaneous polls would result in a repeat of their 1999 victory. What they forgot, though, was that this victory was the result of the impact of the Kargil war on the people's mood and the unsullied image Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee enjoyed at the time. This time, they don't have these advantages. Besides, they are battling the anti-incumbency factor. Andhra Pradesh could easily shake hands with the Congress.

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