YSR Congress president Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s victory was expected in Andhra Pradesh, but none had imagined its magnitude, perhaps, not even the man himself.
There were lingering doubts too till the EVMs were opened Thursday. After all, the wily TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu had rolled out poll-eve sops like cash transfer to women’s self-help groups and farmers and unleashed his sidekick and actor Pawan Kalyan to split the opposition vote.
However, in the end, none of this mattered. The sheer public disgust with Naidu’s administration and politics was such that 50 per cent of the electorate, 49.95 to be precise, voted for Jagan seeing in him a credible alternative. It is as much a vote against the TDP president as for the scion of the YSR family.
Vilified for long, Jagan has left no stone unturned to be seen as a worthy successor to his father the late Y S Rajasekhara Reddy who is still remembered as a man of his word—the very antithesis of Naidu. He had been on the road amid the people for the last couple of years, walking 3,641 km and listening to their problems stemming from consecutive droughts, crony capitalism, rampant corruption, unemployment and the goondagiri of TDP leaders at the grassroots level.
No wonder, his now-famous slogan ‘Nenu Vunnanu, Nenu Vinnanu’ (I am here and I have heard you) struck a chord and his Navaratnas (nine welfare schemes) offered hope.
In contrast, Naidu ran a negative campaign, demonising Jagan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and depended more on graphics and optics to cover up his U-turns, disastrous handling of the state economy, and failure to expedite key projects such as Polavaram and Amaravati. In a last-ditch attempt, he sought to buy votes with public money on the eve of polling day, insulting the intelligence of the Andhra voter.
While Naidu may introspect, Jagan’s real challenge begins now. Implementing his Navaratnas could cost the cash-strapped state at least `1 lakh crore and building the capital just as much. Extracting special status for AP from the Modi government isn’t easy either. He has raised expectations and must live up to them.