Naidu ‘power’ stuns Jagan

TDP-BJP-JSP tsunami washes away YSRC; NDA likely to offer convenor position to CM-designate
JSP president Pawan Kalyan felicitates TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu at his residence
JSP president Pawan Kalyan felicitates TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu at his residence Photo| Prasant Madugula / Express

VIJAYAWADA: In a historic comeback, if ever there was one, the TDP, in alliance with the BJP and actor Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party (JSP), stormed to power in Andhra Pradesh, winning 164 out of the 175 assembly constituencies and 21 out of the 25 Lok Sabha segments.

The stunning public mandate left the outgoing chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRC reeling with just 11 Assembly and four Lok Sabha seats, a far cry from the 151 Assembly and 22 Parliamentary constituencies it won in 2019.

Except for Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy and Jagan himself, none of the cabinet ministers could win. In Jagan’s citadel too, Kadapa, the party could hold onto only three seats, including Pulivendula.

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu as Opposition leader in November 2021 had declared on the floor of the Assembly that he would re-enter the House again only as Chief Minister. And, his triumphant victory is truly remarkable.

From North Andhra to Rayalaseema, the NDA showed unimaginable dominance. The YSRC could not open its account in as many as eight undivided districts! It could not even put up an impressive performance in Rayalaseema where it clinched a majority of seats in 2019.

The TDP, on its own, won 135 of the 144 seats it has contested, while the JSP scored cent per cent by bagging all the 21 Assembly seats and two MP seats it contested. The BJP, which does not have a foothold in the State, too put up a great show winning eight MLA seats in districts like Srikakulam and Kadapa. It won three MP seats, with State party chief Purandeswari emerging victorious from Rajahmahendravaram.

Till last reports came in, the TDP secured a vote-share of 45.59% against the 39.17% in 2019. The YSRC’s share of votes tumbled to 39.37% as against the 49.85% in 2019. The BJP, which fought alone in 2019, garnered 2.83% against 0.84% in the previous elections. The JSP secured 8.48% votes. NOTA got 1.09% votes.

Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan share a hug at Mangalagiri
Chandrababu Naidu and Pawan Kalyan share a hug at Mangalagiri Photo I Express

The TDP, JSP and BJP camps erupted in celebrations as the trends started to trickle while the polling agents and candidates of YSRC slowly left the counting centres by 10 am itself. TDP national president N Chandrababu Naidu was joined by his wife Bhuvaneswari, son Lokesh and other family members in the celebrations while JSP chief Pawan Kalyan celebrated with his wife Anna Lezhneva and son Akhira Nandan.

Naidu spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and congratulated them on the NDA winning a majority at the Centre. The BJP national leaders conveyed their greetings to Naidu for winning the elections. 

Naidu is likely to be sworn-in as Chief Minister at Amaravati on June 9. BJP national leaders are likely to participate in the ceremony. Meanwhile, Jagan Mohan Reddy tendered his resignation in the evening and in a brief statement termed the verdict surprising and wondered where have votes of the beneficiaries of his welfare schemes gone.

He congratulated the winning alliance and vowed to continue to work for the cause of the people.

Naidu along with Pawan Kalyan is likely to reach Delhi on Wednesday and call on BJP senior leaders Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, sources said, adding that the TDP chief has been offered the position of the NDA convenor.

For Naidu, the turnaround in his fortunes must have come as the sweetest in his life.

The TDP with 16 MP seats is the second largest party in the NDA and with the BJP failing to cross the magic figure on its own, he is likely to once again play a key role at the Centre as he did during the Vajpayee era. The landslide victory has come as a surprise for the TDP too, its leaders admitted stating that they were anticipating a favourable outcome, but never the tsunami. From just 23 seats in 2019 and four of his men leaving mid-way, it had not been a smooth journey for Naidu in the last five years. The YSRC regime registered cases against him and his leaders and sent Naidu to prison in the alleged skill development scam, but the veteran leader bounced back joining hands with Pawan and BJP.

The combination of TDP, BJP and JSP has worked overcoming the initial dissidence among the rank and file of the three parties. The strong Kapu vote-back has surely consolidated in favour of the alliance with the presence of Pawan Kalyan. Besides, Naidu’s slogan of welfare plus development resonated across the State. For Jagan, his welfare ‘mantra’ did not work. Solely relying on welfare, he has clearly failed in refuting the narrative of lack of development and jobs. His over-reliance on volunteers sidelining the elected representatives has cost him dear, a party leader rued. Adding to it, the swapping, dropping and shuffling of MLA candidates too did not go down well with the cadre. Jagan’s vindictive attitude towards the Opposition leaders too sent wrong signals, analysts averred, adding the arrest of Naidu was his biggest blunder.

Terming the alliance victory historic, JSP chief Pawan Kalyan said time has come to lay the foundation for the future of Andhra Pradesh and clarified, “We will not act in a vindictive manner against the YSRC.” Naidu paid a visit to Pawan at the latter’s office in the evening. Both are likely to work out the modalities of government formation.

Reacting to NDA’s victory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on X, “Andhra Pradesh has given an exceptional mandate to NDA! I thank the people of the state for their blessings. I congratulate @ncbn Garu, @PawanKalyan Garu and the Karyakartas of @JaiTDP, @JanaSenaParty and @BJP4Andhra for this emphatic victory. We will work for the all-round progress of AP and ensure the state prospers in the times to come.”

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