Amaravati: It is YSR Congress Party all the way in the municipal elections. Right from Srikakulam to Kurnool, YSRCP bagged all but two of the 75 municipalities and 12 municipal corporations for which elections were held last week. This thumping victory came close on the heels of the resounding victory the party supporters won in the panchayat elections.

This is the third time in 21 months the YSRCP has decimated the Opposition TDP - first it was in the 2019 Assembly elections, then the gram panchayat elections last month, and now the municipal elections. While the YSRCP has gained on its 2019 stunning victory, the TDP is slowly but surely losing ground in Andhra Pradesh. The presence of Congress is nil and the new combination of BJP and Janasena failed to make any inroads.

The main Opposition TDP was banking heavily on the capital city issue and hoped it would win in Krishna and Guntur districts. However, dashing its hopes, people of both the districts dumped TDP while YSRCP won all the municipalities and corporations in the districts with a huge margin. The second important issue the TDP tried to gain mileage out of was the privatization of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. However, people have rejected TDP's propaganda and the corporation and municipalities in the district went the YSRCP's way. The YSRCP leaders claimed that the victory in Visakhapatnam is proof that the people have welcomed Chief Minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy to make Visakhapatnam the executive capital of Andhra Pradesh.

TDP president and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu vigorously campaigned in some districts and tried to provoke people against the Chief Minister and the YSRCP. However, it failed to enthuse people, who reposed their faith in the governance of Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The outcome of the recently-held gram panchayat elections and Sunday's municipal elections answered several issues the ruling YSRCP was facing and decimated the TDP completely.

After the huge victory in the 2019 elections, Jagan has implemented almost all of his poll promises, including numerous welfare schemes benefitting all sections of the society. His governance has ensured that the schemes reach the doorsteps of the beneficiaries without any pilferage and malpractices. The anti-incumbency against Chandrababu Naidu which catapulted Jagan to power seems to have turned into a positive vote in favour of Jagan during his 21-month rule so far.

After the panchayat elections, rival parties put up a brave face and exuded confidence that they would take revenge against the YSRCP in the municipal elections. However, the YSRCP swept the urban local bodies leaving the opposition parties to ponder what had hit them.

A close look at the municipalities that fall under the Tirupati Lok Sabha seat which is scheduled to hold a by-election in a month or two following the death of YSRCP MP B. Durgaprasad Rao. YSRCP has swept Tirupati municipal corporation, Naidupeta, Sullurpet, and Venkatagiri municipalities. Of the 125 divisions and wards in these four towns, YSRCP has won as many as 121 seats. The TDP managed to secure only three wards and the BJP just one. Incidentally, BJP and Janasena contested these elections in alliance and the friendship is going to continue in the by-election to the Lok Sabha seat.

Voters did not believe the TDP or the BJP or Janasena or Congress. The welfare schemes being implemented by Jagan and his commitment to the development of the state resulted in such a huge mandate for the ruling party.

At the same time, the outcome of the elections will pose serious questions to the main Opposition and its leader Chandrababu Naidu. From the drubbing in the 2019 Assembly elections till date, Mr. Naidu is wondering how he lost the elections so badly. He always believed that the "misguided voters" handed him the defeat and he was not at fault. The drubbing in the gram panchayat elections, according to him, was due to "the rowdyism" and the State Election Commission has failed in its duty. He is neither ready to believe that he is being pushed to the sidelines nor in a mood to see whether he is slowly becoming insignificant in Andhra Pradesh politics. Now, he is yet to come out and speak and blame it on someone else.

First, it was the Amaravati capital city issue which he has tried and is still trying to capitalize on. However, this did not cut much ice with the people not only in the remaining districts of the state but also in Krishna and Guntur districts, where the capital city falls. Then the Vizag steel plant issue, the "I developed Hyderabad" speech, painting YSRCP as a rogue party, blasting people for being "shameless", etc . However, he could not win the confidence of even the urban voters.

The other issue he and the BJP tried very hard to promote was the Hindutva agenda. Both the parties have desperately tried to project the Chief Minister as anti-Hindu. But, both the parties fell flat on their face in their attempts as people did not believe their misinformation campaign. The BJP barely made its presence felt. The party needs to do a lot of introspection. The Janasena, which does not have any organizational structure needs to go back to the drawing board and redraw its plans.



Amar Devulapalli

Amar Devulapalli is the Advisor, National Media and Interstate Affairs of Government of Andhra Pradesh

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