Andhra — What Went Wrong For Jagan Mohan Reddy And YSRCP Between 2019 And 2024

Sharan Setty

May 15, 2024, 03:19 PM | Updated 05:54 PM IST

Media reports indicate a handsome win for the TDP-JSP-BJP alliance in Andhra Pradesh, both at the state level and Lok Sabha.
Media reports indicate a handsome win for the TDP-JSP-BJP alliance in Andhra Pradesh, both at the state level and Lok Sabha.
  • Anti-incumbency, delayed projects, and a resurgent BJP-TDP alliance may spell trouble for Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh.
  • A decade ago, in 2014, erstwhile Andhra Pradesh was divided into two states. Telangana was born after a long and exhausting agitation put up by several leaders from the region.

    Seemandhra got separated, and the umbilical connection between several regions was finally cut.

    People in Seemandhra at the time were worried about many things — facing a potential water shortage, rebuilding an economy from scratch, and scouting for a new capital city that would accommodate the legislative and administrative needs of the newborn state.

    But the political future seemed sustainable for the experienced Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu.

    In his long and illustrious career spanning over four decades, he had faced opposition from various political factions, survived a deadly Naxal attack, modernised Hyderabad and was credited for making it an IT hub like Bengaluru.

    At the same time, K Chandrashekar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samiti stormed to power in the newly-born state.

    Meanwhile, following Y S Rajashekar Reddy's death in 2009, his 36-year-old son Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy was silently rebuilding his organisation, the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), which also matched his father's acronym 'YSR'.

    For a decade, he would not come to power. Between 2014 and 2019, Naidu served as the first chief minister of the new state. Ashok Gajapati Raju, a TDP MP, even served as the Union Minister for Civil Aviation in the Narendra Modi cabinet, only to tender his resignation before the 2019 elections.

    On the issue of not issuing a special status to Andhra Pradesh, relations between Prime Minister Modi and Naidu soured, with the latter lashing out against the BJP on multiple occasions.

    In 2019, Reddy won a handsome majority in the Andhra Pradesh assembly by bagging 151 of the 175 seats.

    But five years later, he would find himself facing many opponents — anti-incumbency, accusations of law and order depletion, a 'super NDA' alliance and finally, his family members who would turn against him, including his mother and sister.

    As AP went to polls on Monday (13 May), pollsters are looking at a potential sweep by the super NDA alliance, and Jagan is about to face defeat. Here are some of the things that may have gone wrong for him —

    One, the biggest issue by far is the delay in the completion of the Polavaram irrigation project. For over two decades now, the Polavaram project has been in progress and has cost the exchequer Rs 21,000 crore. In the drought-prone Rayalaseema region, this project can potentially solve drinking water and irrigation problems.

    Cost overruns are now making the project more expensive, and is estimated to cost over Rs 50,000 crore. PM Narendra Modi attacked the YSCRP government for delaying it despite receiving Rs 15,000 crore from the Centre for its completion.

    Two, even after a decade, Andhra Pradesh is yet to finalise its capital city. Initially, the previous government led by former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu declared Amaravati as the capital. But Jagan overturned the decision and scrapped the idea of developing Amaravati, leaving thousands of farmers and locals unhappy.

    Later, he proposed the idea of having three capitals for the state — Vizag, Kurnool and Amaravati. But very little progress has been achieved on that front. People are embarrassed, impatient and angry about the indecision and petty politics around this issue.

    Three, the coming together of the TDP, Jana Sena Party (JSP) and the BJP as a part of the 'super NDA' alliance may just work well arithmetically for them. In the past, although parties may have won or lost seats drastically different from one another, the margin of victory in many constituencies has been very thin.

    Traditionally, whenever the BJP has allied with the TDP, the prospects have been positive for them. With Pawan Kalyan's JSP attracting the Kapu voters, with the blessings of his brother Chiranjeevi, the disgruntled voters may come back to bless the alliance with their mandate, making things work for them in their favour.

    BJP has only managed to win when it was in an alliance with the TDP. In the 1999 and the 2014 elections, BJP managed to bag Lok Sabha seats, whereas the saffron party did not win anything in 2004, 2009 and 2019 when the alliance was not in place.

    Four, Jagan Reddy is facing anti-incumbency for not creating enough jobs, resolving the water crisis and tightening the law and order situation in the state. From harassment of business communities and common citizens by officials and politicians to Jagan's inability to bring misbehaving MLAs to task, people may be upset with the current establishment for focusing on welfare schemes specific to particular communities in AP.

    Fifth, media reports indicate a resurgent BJP, TDP. They seem to have managed to tackle the freebie conundrum by promising equal or adequate measures to keep the rural and semi-urban voters happy.

    A strong anti-Jagan sentiment has not been countered by YSRCP. They have not made any interesting propositions in their manifesto that can defeat anti-incumbency. PM Modi's peak popularity may just help the alliance a tad bit more. With the Kammas, Rajus and Kapus reportedly in favour of the TDP-BJP-JSP this time, the alliance may just get the calculations right this time.

    Finally, there is a wave of sympathy for Chandrababu Naidu, especially after he was arrested by the Jagan government in 2023. Arrests are quite normal in AP politics, with Jagan going to jail before becoming the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.

    Naidu, after making amends with the BJP, has managed to focus on the messaging. This coordination, and a push by Pawan Kalyan has also reflected in the efforts being invested by the alliance in the state. Jagan's way of addressing Naidu in the AP assembly has also left Naidu's supporters angry.

    Sharan Setty (Sharan K A) is an Associate Editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @sharansetty2.

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