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Tripartite alliance in Andhra looks set to upset YSR Congress' apple cart

The alliance is taking on YSRCP over the issues of its destructive politics, corruption, unemployment, mounting public debts, alleged lack of new investments, U-turn on state capital Amaravati, failure to implement total prohibition, and law and order problems.

Tripartite alliance in Andhra looks set to upset YSR Congress apple cart

(L-R) Jagan Mohan Reddy, Sharmila Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu, Pawan Kalyan (IANS)

AMARAVATI: Cashing in on the anti-incumbency, the grand alliance of Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Jana Sena Party (JSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may upset the ruling YSR Congress Party's apple cart in the next month's polls to Andhra Pradesh Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The coming together of TDP, JSP and BJP appears to have given the alliance an edge in what is expected to be a close fight.

The return of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy's sister Y.S. Sharmila Reddy to state politics and her joining of the Congress party may also play spoilsport for the ruling party.

With the JSP of Tollywood star Pawan Kalyan as their partner, TDP and BJP will be looking to repeat the success of 2014.

The forging of an alliance with BJP and JSP appears to have given a psychological edge to TDP supremo and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who has his eyes set on another term as the CM. With Pawan Kalyan ready to play second fiddle and a limited number of seats allotted to the two partners, 73-year-old Chandrababu Naidu is the face of the tripartite alliance.

Analysts say transfer of votes among the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) partners may prove to be the key to its success.

The alliance is likely to avoid a split of anti-incumbency votes. In addition to this, if Congress under Sharmila manages to eat into Dalit Christian votes of YSRCP, this may further dent the prospects of Jagan Mohan Reddy's party. Jagan Mohan Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu are leading the campaigns of their respective parties.

The Chief Minister, whose party has already completed two rounds of campaign, is currently on 'Memanta Siddham' (We are ready) bus yatra while Chandrababu Naidu is running the campaign titled 'Prajagalam' (people's voice).

Interestingly, both the leaders started their campaigns from Rayalaseema, a backward region they come from. Both the leaders launched an offensive on each other's strongholds.

Raising the pitch, Chandrababu Naidu is asking at public meetings why not Pulivendula.

He was responding to YSRCP's plans to wrest Naidu's Kuppam seat.

Pulivendula in Kadapa district is considered a pocket borough of Jagan Mohan Reddy's family for over four decades while Chandrababu Naidu has been representing Kuppam since 1989.

Pawan Kalyan is focussing on Godavari districts, where his party is contesting most of the 21 Assembly seats allotted to it under the seat-sharing formula.

The JSP has also fielded candidates for two Lok Sabha seats.

The alliance is taking on YSRCP over the issues of its destructive politics, corruption, unemployment, mounting public debts, alleged lack of new investments, U-turn on state capital Amaravati, failure to implement total prohibition, and law and order problems.

Allegations over former minister Vivekananda Reddy's murder, attack by Jagan's sister Sharmila, and cousin Sunitha Reddy that he was shielding the murder accused provided further ammunition to the opposition.

In what is seen as an embarrassment for Jagan, the YSR family stands vertically divided in its stronghold of Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency with Sharmila entering the fray as Congress candidate against cousin Y.S. Avinash Reddy, who is seeking re-election for a third consecutive term as YSRCP candidate.

Five years after the murder of Jagan's uncle Vivekananda Reddy, the sensational case has again taken the centre-stage.

Terming Avinash Reddy a 'killer', Sharmila and Vivekananda Reddy's daughter Sunitha have appealed to people to defeat Jagan and Avinash.

The YSRCP is banking on the welfare schemes implemented by it during the last five years to seek a fresh mandate.

Jagan Mohan Reddy claimed to have implemented 95 per cent of poll promises.

At election meetings, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy claimed that the YSRCP government has so far disbursed Rs 2.45 lakh crore under Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes.

Claiming that his government has implemented 95 per cent of poll promises, he said people in all villages would only remember the village secretariats, volunteer system, Rythu Bharosa Kendras (RBKs), door delivery of pensions, village clinics, family doctors, Mahila Police, Jagananna Aarogya Suraksha and free power supply to farmers ushered in by him.

Jagan, whose party is contesting the polls on its own, is calling himself a lion who will single-handedly take on its opponents who have all ganged up.

"Despite working for 14 years as Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu has no achievements to his credit as he spent his entire tenure indulging in scams and pursuing the policy of plunder, stash, and devour. He has no political values and credibility except telling lies, cheating people, and backstabbing," Jagan Mohan Reddy said at one of his public meetings.

In 2019, YSR Congress wrested power from TDP with a landslide victory, bagging 151 seats in the 175-member Assembly.

It polled 49.95 per cent votes. The TDP was a distant second with 23 seats and 39.17 per cent votes.

Jana Sena, which had contested the polls in alliance with Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left parties, had polled 5.53 per cent votes.

Jana Sena had contested 137 seats but could win just one seat.

Pawan Kalyan himself suffered defeat in both the seats he contested.

The BJP went alone in 2019 and drew a blank.

It polled a mere 0.84 per cent votes.

As caste plays a key role in Andhra Pradesh elections, the alliance is hoping to wean away the sections that predominantly voted for the YSR Congress in 2019.

The TDP is hoping to get the support of Backward Class voters in addition to their traditional supporters Kammas.

Reddys, another socially and politically influential community, may be divided in their support for Jagan.

Jana Sena is hoping to get the support of Kapus, a numerically strong and influential community in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Accounting for over 20 per cent of the state's 5 crore population, Kapus had overwhelmingly voted for the TDP-BJP combine in the 2014 general elections, for which Pawan Kalyan had campaigned extensively.

In the 2014 elections, the difference in the vote share between the victorious TDP-BJP combine and the opposition YSRCP was a mere 1.6 per cent.

The TDP-BJP combine got 46.69 per cent votes against YSR Congress' 45.01 per cent. The TDP won 102 and the BJP bagged five seats to emerge with a clear majority in the 175-member state Assembly, while YSRCP bagged 67 seats.

In Lok Sabha, the difference between the two sides was slightly higher at 2.34 per cent.

While the TDP-BJP combine got 47.95 per cent votes, the YSR Congress came close second with 45.61 per cent.

But this was enough to almost double the seats of the TDP-BJP, which bagged 17 Lok Sabha seats against eight of the YSR Congress.

This time, the TDP has left six Lok Sabha seats for the BJP and two for the JSP.

It has also allotted 10 Assembly seats to the BJP and 21 to the JSP.

Political analysts say for Chandrababu Naidu keeping BJP on his side will give him some psychological advantage.

It was for this reason that the TDP chief was keen on reviving ties with the BJP.

The BJP was cautious given its past experience with Naidu but Pawan Kalyan persuaded the BJP leadership to join the alliance to end the ‘anarchic’ rule of YSRCP. The TDP is also trying to woo voters with its 'Super Six' guarantees.

These promises are free bus travel to all women, three free gas cylinders to every household per year, Rs 15,000 per year to every school-going child, 20 lakh job opportunities or unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000 per month, Rs 1,500 per month to every woman above 18 years, and financial assistance of Rs 20,000 per year to every farmer.

The YSR Congress, on the other hand, is highlighting the 'poor track record' of Naidu in fulfilling the promises and cautioning the beneficiaries of various welfare schemes that if they fall for his guarantees, they will lose even the existing benefits.

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