The Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP), Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s ruling party, and candidates backed by it won 9,300 seats in the State’s just-concluded rural local body (panchayat) elections. The results of 11,500-odd seats have been declared so far. There are 13,054 panchayats spread across Andhra Pradesh’s 13 districts: Srikakulam (1,190), Vizianagaram (920), Visakhapatnam (925), East Godavari (1,103), West Godavari (881), Krishna (980), Guntur (1,022), Prakasam (1,038), SPSR Nellore (940), Ananthapuram (1,003), Chittoor (1,372), YSR Kadapa (791) and Kurnool (889). The YSRCP is on course to pocket around 85 per cent of the seats.
For the YSRCP, it was a confirmation of its hold over the State’s electorate, building on its impressive showing in the 2019 Assembly elections when it won 49.95 per cent of the vote share. This time around, the party secured massive wins in almost all districts, particularly in Kadapa, Nellore, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, East and West Godavari. It also swept to massive wins in the Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra districts.
The main opposition in the State, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), headed by former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, was a poor second, securing just over 1,900-odd seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Jana Sena Party alliance won just over 120 seats, while others, including YSRCP rebels, secured 250 seats.
The TDP, surprisingly, suffered electoral losses in Chittoor district, the home district of Chandrababu Naidu. In Chittoor’s Kuppam constituency, the TDP secured just 14 of the 89 panchayats that went to the hustings. Other senior TDP functionaries such as Yanamala Ramakrishnudu and Devineni Uma Maheswara Rao, in the Tuni and Mylavaram regions respectively, were not able to stem the roller coaster ride of their arch political enemy, the YSRCP. The TDP, in fact, received a drubbing in almost all the districts barring Guntur and Krishna.
YSRCP-backed candidates won all the seats in Pulivendula, the constituency represented by Jagan Mohan Reddy, making the party’s victory even sweeter. The party won all the 108 seats for which elections were held out of a total of 109. Around 90 candidates were elected unopposed.
Reacting to the party’s admirable showing in the panchayat elections, Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy, YSRCP general secretary, said it was a positive vote for the party and the government. The people appreciated Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s “plethora of welfare schemes” that benefitted people from all sections. Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy said: “Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has a one-point agenda of governance—welfare of the people and resolving their problems. People have given their verdict in favour of the Chief Minister’s agenda.”
According to the State Election Commission (SEC), 81.76 per cent of voters exercised their franchise in the four-phase panchayat elections. The panchayat elections were mired in legal hassles, with the Jagan Mohan Reddy government at loggerheads with Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar, the State Election Commissioner, over the conduct and timing of the elections. The government had even unceremoniously removed Ramesh Kumar from his post. It was only after the intervention of the Supreme Court that Ramesh Kumar was reinstated and the elections conducted.
The YSRCP’s showing in the panchayat elections is a timely morale booster, coming as it has just weeks before the upcoming elections to the State’s urban local bodies, the Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituencies (ZPTCs) and the Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies (MPTCs), which will be held on March 10. The election process to the 12 Municipal Corporations, including Greater Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, and 75 municipalities and nagar panchayats bodies were suspended midway 11 months ago in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. Counting of votes will be taken up on March 14.
In a related incident, the fledgling Jana Sena party of Pawan Kalyan has requested the State Election Commissioner to issue fresh notification for the MPTC and ZPTC elections. Alleging that large-scale irregularities had taken place in the process of nominations before the onset of the COVID-19 which forced a curtailment of the election process, Pawan Kalyan said that he would be taking legal recourse for the same. Said Kalyan: “Many of our leaders were threatened and prevented from filing nomination papers.”