Congress faces stronger Opposition in AP – Lok Sabha Election news

The Congress performance in Andhra Pradesh in the Lok Sabha poll may have been impressive, but party leaders are worried about the results of the assembly election, which turned out to be below their expectations.

Though the Y S Rajasekhar Reddy-led Congress party swept back to power, winning 157 seats in the 294-seat assembly, it failed to secure an absolute majority. The Congress failure to win more seats has helped its arch-rival, the Telugu Desam Party, to double its strength in the state assembly, from 47 seats in the 2004 election to 93.

TDP president and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu has realised that cobbling together a Grand Alliance with the Left and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi has proved to be his undoing.

The TDP would have had a better chance of coming back to power if it had fought the election on its own. The Left parties and TRS have little popular support. The TDP chief also failed to keep the campaign focused on the key issues that his party had identified in the run-up to the poll.

Superstar Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party failed to project itself as a viable political party and its social justice plank failed to inspire the electorate. The Praja Rajyam may have performed better had Chiranjeevi not dithered for so long and launched his party earlier.

The caste polarisation that the party had expected did not happen and the Praja Rajyam put up a disastrous show, winning only 18 assembly seats. The party drew a blank in the Lok Sabha poll.

Among the TDP’s allies, the TRS and Left parties could not capitalise on the Grand Alliance to bolster its prospects. The TRS, which won 26 assembly seats in the 2004 poll, won only 10 seats this election.

The Communist Party of India won four assembly seats; the Communist Party of India-Marxist won just one seat.

The TRS won two Lok Sabha seats; the Left parties didn’t win any.

The Congress won 33 Lok Sabha seats spanning across 230 assembly segments. But in the state assembly elections, it won only 157 seats, 73 seats less than its leads in the Lok Sabha election.

The party’s disparate performances in the state and Parliamentary elections can be attributed to a number of factors like cross-voting on a large scale, especially in Telangana districts, presence of rebels in the assembly polls and selective sabotage against candidates by party workers.

State Congress president D Srinivas as well as nearly a dozen ministers lost the election. The losing ministers included eight from Telangana — Mohammed Shabbir Ali, T Jeevan Reddy, G Chinna Reddy, G Vinod, Mohammed Fareeduddin, S Chandrasekhar, J Ratnakar Rao and D S Redya Naik; three from coastal Andhra — P Venkateswara Rao, N Rajyalakshmi and M Buddha Prasad; and one from Rayalaseema — R Chenga Reddy.

Union Minister for Women and Child Welfare Renuka Chowdary and sitting Members of Parliament D Vittal Rao, B Ramakrishna and V Balashowrie also lost the Lok Sabha poll.

In Chowdary’s case, the presence of a rebel candidate and sabotage by the dissident group led by Jalagam Venkat Rao, son of the late former chief minister J Vengal Rao, proved costly. The irony is that the minister lost to her TDP rival even as the Left parties were almost marginalised in their stronghold of Khammam.

Fielding Balashourie from Narasaraopet constituency despite opposition from local leaders cost him the seat.

The striking difference in the party’s performance at the state and national level is not new. In the 1989 election, the Congress bagged 39 Lok Sabha seats and its candidates had secured leads in 223 assembly segments. But the party won only 183 assembly seats, losing another 40 seats to cross-voting and internal sabotage.

In 1989, the party polled 51 per cent votes in the Lok Sabha polls, but only 48 per cent in the simultaneously held assembly polls. This time, though the party polled around 37 per cent in the assembly polls, its vote share in the Lok Sabha elections is 42 per cent.

Leader of Opposition Chandrababu Naidu, with his 93 MLAs, will be a formidable force in the assembly. Chiranjeevi, as head of the 18-member Praja Rajyam group in the assembly, will play second fiddle.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, with two members, and the Lok Satta Party with a sole member, will not have much of a voice in the assembly.

The Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen, which increased its strength from five legislators in 2004 to seven, is another prominent victor this election; it is a Congress ally.

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