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The Andhra Pradesh verdict: Understanding why the state was angry with Jagan Mohan Reddy and how TDP and BJP could gain

Jagan promised to abolish liquor once he came to power. After coming to power, he encouraged the production of liquor in many local brands! So even while he was transferring 15,000/- per year into accounts of mothers who were sending their daughters to school, he was also instrumental in the rampant increase in the consumption of alcohol in rural households. 

A few months ago, we discussed the shady palace intrigue of Jagan Mohan Reddy in detail. The stories of murder, betrayal, and politics that we witnessed beat any well-written TV show too! One of the characters we discussed in this drama was Jagan’s mother, Y.S.Vijayamma. Then, we mentioned how Jagan tactfully made her resign as the President of his party and she parted ways with him to support her daughter (i.e. Jagan’s sister). The family intrigue went from bad to worse after that. Unable to bear the pressure, Y.S.Vijayamma went to the US for the entire election cycle. 

If your mother doesn’t take your side, why would people want to take your side? Remember, this is not a typical case of multiple people in the same family being in different parties. This was a case of the son actively ensuring the mother is removed; the sister is harassed; and ultimately mother gives up on the son! 

While I believe this whole saga is one of the strongest reasons for the people to get vexed with Jagan, I think the turning point was when he arrested Chandrababu Naidu last year on a corruption case. The president of the Jana Sena Party, Pawan Kalyan, who was already an NDA ally then, immediately announced his support to Chandrababu Naidu. He went along with TDP’s leadership met Chandrababu in jail, and rallied support for him outside the jail. Many neutral folks in the state were also shocked by the manner of arrest of a leader like Chandrababu Naidu. 

The anger against Jagan was brewing much before that though. This was evident from the fact that his party lost an MLC graduate election for 3 seats in 2022. The anger was brewing for multiple reasons. Jagan’s disastrous 3-capital plan basically meant that people were clueless about where the capital of the state was going to be. The disastrous plan, though passed by the Assembly, was rejected in the Legislative Council and more importantly, kept on hold by the High Court. 

Companies that wanted to invest also were clueless about where to invest because of the confusion around the capital. With no investment coming in, the youth were obviously getting restless on the lack of opportunities in the state. They showed their anger in the 2022 elections, but Jagan simply failed to get the message. 

Jagan promised to abolish liquor once he came to power. After coming to power, he encouraged the production of liquor in many local brands! So even while he was transferring 15,000/- per year into accounts of mothers who were sending their daughters to school, he was also instrumental in the rampant increase in the consumption of alcohol in rural households. 

One of the flagship programs of Jagan was to revamp government schools, both from an infrastructure perspective and a teaching perspective. He focussed excessively on the beautification of the school buildings. He suddenly introduced English medium instruction without enough training to the teachers. He even experimented with introducing the IB syllabus! There was massive dissatisfaction within the teacher community. There was no attempt made to hire new teachers, even while vacancies were piling up. 

While there are some more examples that can be cited, without strong opposition, the materialization of the anger would not have happened. And here is where we have to make a special mention of the TDP cadre for holding fort despite facing their worst-ever defeat in 2019. Chandrababu’s son, Lokesh underwent a good transformation during his year-long padayatra across the state. While they were building back their party, came the arrest of the Chandrababu Naidu, which changed the game in AP. 

Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena was already in alliance with the BJP. The BJP and TDP split with very bad blood in 2019. Chandrababu’s arrest changed how Pawan Kalyan functioned too! He mentioned in a public meeting how much he struggled to bring back TDP and BJP together because he was very particular about defeating Jagan. He conducted a very spirited campaign for nearly three months, and the public gave him an outstanding 100% result – Jana Sena won 21 out of the 21 MLA seats they contested; and 2 out of the 2 MP seats they contested, as part of the NDA! 

The TDP won a massive 135 out of the 144 seats it contested. This verdict is not just a slap on the face for Jagan but a huge vote of confidence in Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership too. The resilience of both the cadre and the leader has paid off really well in the 2024 elections. 

BJP, which was literally an untouchable in 2019 also saw a revival – winning 8 MLA seats out of the 10 they contested; and 3 out of the 6 MP seats they contested. One of the MPs was a long-time karyakarta of the party – Bhupati Raju Srinivasa Varma, who won from Narsapuram. He has now been made a MoS in the Modi government. 

The NDA won a whopping 164 out of the 175 seats in the AP Assembly. They also won 21 out of the 25 LS seats. Andhra Pradesh has been a key contributor to the strength of NDA in the 2024 elections and therefore there are higher expectations from Modi that he will give some extra benefits to AP. 

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S. Sudhir Kumar
S. Sudhir Kumar
Obsessive eater, Compulsive sleeper, Repulsive Writer

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