Jaganmohan Reddy walks across AP, challenges Chandrababu Naidu

-From Ch.R.S Sarma/M Somasekhar Visakhapatnam/Hyderabad | Updated on January 12, 2019 Published on January 12, 2019

YS Jaganmohan Reddy (File Photo)

Will it be history repeating itself in Andhra Pradesh politics? Will the son-YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who has outdone his father, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, in a `Walkathon’, also wrest power from the same political opponent Nara Chandrababu Naidu, in the 175 member Legislative Assembly?

Political circles are abuzz with speculation as the 46 year old, leader of the main opposition in AP has completed the `Walk of his life”, a marathon distance of 3,648 kms in 341 days. No mean achievement by any standards. Now, awaits the fruits of this sterling performance as elections are slated to be held in the next 100 days?

In completing his Padayatra as it is called in political parlance here, Jaganmohan has walked more than double the distance (1470 kms) which YS Rajasekhara Reddy did in 2003 to reach power in 2004 (defeating Naidu in the united AP).

He has broken records held by his sister, YS Sharmila (2819 kms in 2013) & Naidu (2500 plus kms) in 2012 too. Starting from his home district of Kadapa on November 6, 2017, he travelled all the 13 districts, 2,516 villages and towns in 134 of the 175 Assembly constituencies and ending in Ichapuram in Srikakulam (same place where YSR ended ), his YSR Congress Party stated.

Intent of the Padayatra:

There has been no doubt about the intention behind Jagan’s mission. The moot point is : What has he achieved so far and has he gained enough traction to unseat Chandrababu Naidu ? Opinion is divided as expected. Jagan is confident that he has won the people’s confidence by reaching out to them and hearing their problems.

Jagan has strategically focussed all his attention and energies in connecting with his voters in the past year. Throughout, he concentrated on targetting the CM, his failure to fulfil tall promises and the false allegations being made on him to gain sympathy. He drew crowds, pulled out all the tricks in the book to woo potential voters and strengthened the party base. His Party MPs took up issues at the national level.

In the 2014 Assembly election in the aftermath of the State's bifurcation, the Parties were separated by 5 lakh votes. While TDP-BJP alliance got 106, the YSR Congress got 67 seats. Hence, the YSR Congress leaders are confident that "this time round the anti-incumbency factor, coupled with the flip-flops of Chandrababu Naidu on SCS, Central funding, relations with BJP etc would cost the TDP dear and Jagan will comfortably emerge the winner."

“People are simply fed up with the lies being uttered by the CM. First, he accepts the special package stating that it is better than the promised special category status. Then, he changes his mind, breaks ties with the BJP after nearly four years and starts abusing the BJP and my party together, saying that I am a covert ally of the BJP”, Jagan says.

In contrast, Naidu with the ground strength in the State slipping with a clear gap in the implementation of big projects like the Capital city of Amaravati, Special Category Status (SCS), Vizag railway zone, projects and jobs, snapped ties with ally BJP, and finally has taken on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and task of forging a common alliance to fight the BJP in 2019.

Thus, Naidu has taken the battle to the Centre. "I have to fight three Modis in the coming elections - Narendra Modi no. 1 in New Delhi, Modi no. 2 in Hyderabad (KCR), and Modi no. 3 in Andhra (JaganJagan has the blessings of Modi and KCR. I have the blessings of the people of the State and the country."

The battle over Special Category Status:

The SCS has been pitchforked as the biggest political issue for the electorate in 2019, basically by the YSR Congress relentless pursuit and highlighting for the past four and half years."I shall support whosoever is ready to grant SCS as promised by former prime minister Manmohan Singh, at the time of bifurcation in the Rajya Sabha," he says.

Congress Party has repeatedly committed itself to granting the SCS to the State, and Rahul Gandhi has declared that it will be the first file he will clear after becoming the PM.

The stand of Jagan has come in for criticism from not only TDP and Congress leaders but neutral political observers as well. "The BJP has already ruled out giving SCS to the State and is only offering a special package instead and Congress is willing to do so and yet Jagan is abusing us. His stand is untenable," says N Raghuveera Reddy, president of the State Congress Committee.

The TDP leaders also point out that Jagan is very soft on the BJP "Jagan does not believe in getting the SCS but wants to come clean out of the 10 serious cases of quid pro quo he is facing now and he wants the BJP to help him. He is afraid of the PM and he will not be able to fight the Centre for securing the rights of the State," alleges Naidu.

Published on January 12, 2019
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