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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

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Naidu's TDP routed; markets shaken

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Hyderabad , May 11

A STRONG anti-incumbency wave swept the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister _ the most visible face of the pro-economic reforms among Indian politicians — Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu out of power, after a record 9-year stint in office.

His overtly confident TDP and its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine suffered a severe drubbing in all the three regions — Andhra, Telangana and Rayalseema — at the hands of the Cong (I), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and allies in the 294-strong Andhra Pradesh State Legislative Assembly, whose results were announced today.

The victorious Congress (I), which won a clear majority with 185 seats and with friendly parties, a whopping 226 is all set to elect the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in the 12th Legislative Assembly on Wednesday with Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy a near certain candidate to be named for the post as well as to don the mantle of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.

A visibly shaken and humbled Chief Minister along with senior leaders of the TDP called on the Governor, Mr S.S. Barnala and tendered his resignation. Reacting to newspersons queries, he said, "The TDP respects people's verdict with humility. The TDP will play a constructive role as a responsible opposition and cooperate in all developmental initiatives. All good policies of Government would be supported keeping in view the welfare of State."

Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Congress (I) leader, credited with laying the foundation for the impressive performance of his party through his 1,600 kms `Padayatra (Prajaprasthanam)' highlighting the shortcomings of the TDP rule, described the party's victory as a "historic verdict. A decisive victory to the Congress and a decisive blow to the TDP." Interestingly, in the first full-fledged elections held using the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), which gave very early indications of the final outcome, most exit polls which predicted that the TDP would lose this time came true.

The TDP supremo's gamble of advancing the Assembly polls by nearly a year and trying to cash in on the image of Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and an expected sympathy vote following at attempt on his life by the naxalites in Alipiri near Tirupati has `come a cropper,' as the people of the State, handed over a handsome majority to the Cong (I), leaving even, the TRS with 26 seats, that would not be enough to bug it in the house.

In the overall showing, the TDP-BJP combine barely managed to garner one sixth of the 294 member house bagging 47 and 2 (-143) seats respectively.

The Congress (I) bagged 185, TRS 26, CPI-M 9, CPI and independents bagging 11 seats , MIM 4, Janata Party 2. Interestingly, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) registered their presence in the State with one seat each.

Today's results saw virtually his entire cabinet ministers fall by the wayside.

While, Mr Naidu himself won from the Kuppam constituency and Finance Minister, Mr Y. Ramakrishnudu, scraped through in Tuni, the industries minister, Mr K. Vidhyadher Rao, revenue minister, Mr Ashok Gajapathi Raju (who won a record 7 elections in a row), and Commercial Taxes Minister, Mr K. Vijayarama Rao were the prominent losers.

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