Saturday, 16 May 2009

Assembly election 2009: It's YSR all the way without the cine glamour

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, May 16: It's YSR all the way without the cine glamour. The Congress under his leadership returned to power in the State winning 157 of the 294 seats in the State Assembly and contributing the largest contingent of 33 MPs to the party at the Centre.

The main Opposition Telugu Desam doubled its tally of seats in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha as compared to that of the 2004 general elections. The TD, which formed the Mahakutami with the TRS and the Left with the sole aim of defeating the Congress, failed to halt the YSR's jaggarnaut.

Neither the corruption charges against Rajasekhar Reddy nor the Telangana sentiment have had much influence on the voters, who distictly delivered their judgement, disproving the calculations of political pundits of a hung Assembly.

The Mahakutami, however, gave some anxious moments to Congress candidates in some constituencies with neck and neck race. Other allies in the Telugu Desam's grand alliance, the TRS, the CPI and the CPM did not put up an impressive show, shattering the dreams of the TD to rule the State. The Mahakutami employed star power in a bid to woo the voters. Its cash transfer and free colour TV schemes also did not go well with the electorate.

Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy attributed the Congress victory to his government's development and welfare schemes including Arogyasri, Jalayagnam, fee waiver and Rs 2 a kg rice while Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu sought three days time "to analyse the cause of the defeat of his grand alliance".

The huge gatherings at public meetings notwithstanding, the political novice Praja Rajyam, launched by film actor Chiranjeevi, failed to impress the voter in all the three regions of the State. Chiranjeevi lost in his native Palacole while his brother-in-law and party treasurer Allu Arvind faced defeat in Anakapalli Lok Sabha constituency. The film star, however, won from Tirupati, the other seat he contested giving solace to his hurt party cadre.

The humiliating defeat of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi once again proved that there was no Telangana sentiment and people in the backward region were in for development and welfare.

A notable feature of the verdict 2009 is that the voters wanted to give a strong Opposition in the State even while ensuring that the Congress retained power. At the same time the voters gave more number of Lok Sabha seats to the Congress than in 2004 general elections for a stable government at the Centre. Political analysts feel that the wise voters, by giving checks and counter balances, had given a clear indication to the Congress that they cannot be taken for granted.

The verdict is almost similar to that of 1999 Assembly elections when voters did not want to dislodge the then TD government headed by N Chandrababu Naidu but wanted to warn him with a strong Opposition in the form of the Congress. The Congress then won 90 seats while the TD got a little over 160 seats. Rajasekhar Reddy now needs to more cautious in running the government this term.

Visible in Congress victory is the fact that there's no anti-incumbency factor against Rajasekhar Reddy's rule.  Though he succeeded in winning the hearts of voters, he could not save most of his Cabinet colleagues from defeat.  A little over one-third of his Cabinet were made to lick the dust indicating that people will not tolerate those who do not perform.

The Congress, however, received a setback in the defeat of APCC chief D Srinivas and AP Legislative Assembly Speaker KR Suresh Reddy. Interestingly most of the Cabinet ministers who lost hail from Telangana.

As the counting began at 8.00 am on Saturday a neck and neck race between the Congress and the Mahakutami was vividly visible but soon fizzled out in the subsequent rounds, giving a clear cut majority to the ruling party.

The Mahakutami, riven by the internecine differences among its members, was left dumbfound while the Praja Rajyam, which was hoping to bargain nothing short of a chiefministership for its chief Chiranjeevi was left aghast as the poll trends started pouring in.

The headquarters of the TD, TRS and the Praja Rajyam wore forlorn looks just a few hours after the counting started with none of their leaders ready to speak to the media on the factors that led to their defeat. The TRS workers locked the main gate of the Telangana Bhavan till late in the evening. Interestingly, the party had set up a camp of its candidates fearing poaching by the Congress. The camp withered away as results started pouring in.

Rajasekhar Reddy, who claimed to romp home with nothing short of 230 State Assembly and 36 Lok Sabha seats might have been a little distance away but is closely achieved a respectable margin of no dependence on other. His forecast with respect to Parliament target came true with the party high command expressing happiness at his sole performance.

The verdict 2009 in the State also saw senior leaders Union Minister Renuka Choudhury, BJP State president Bandaru Dattatreya, and Praja Rajyam leader T Devendar Goud biting the dust.

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