Will Congress do miracle in AP politics?

Date:

(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)

There are great expectations in Congress that in 2024 some electoral miracles will happen in Andhra.  Even Telangana Chief minister Revanth Reddy did not want to miss a chance to say he also helped Congress in Andhra and attended a political meeting. Since the new state of Andhra was formed in 2014, it has been dominated by regional parties. Along with YSR Party, Telugu Desam, Jana sena has also become a regional player. Both the national parties, namely Congress and BJP are marginal players in Andhra. BJP had a great opportunity to grow in Andhra Pradesh. But due to a great “Machiavellian ‘tactic, supporters of Telugu Desam in the BJP saw to it that BJP growth collapsed since 1999. The Andhra BJP was suffocated, and its growth stopped. Since 1999, the BJP gets MLAs and MPs only when it has an alliance.  In biology, it is called stunted growth, where plants are not allowed to grow. regard to Congress party, after division of Andhra, Sonia Gandhi thought that Congress will win in Telangana and get reasonable votes in Andhra. Sonia Gandhi was totally wrong, and the Congress got wiped out in Andhra and defeated by KCR in Telangana. It was only the public desire to defeat KCR in 2023 that congress won in Telangana. 2014 and 2019, Andhra people totally rejected Congress. Though Congress had hundreds of ex-Ministers, ex-MLAs and Ex- MPs, since 2014, the Congress could not win even one MLA or MP. Such has been the volcanic anger of Andhra against Congress. From 2014, though leaders remained in Congress, the cadre and new entrants followed other parties. Therefore, what we have today in Andhra is a Congress full of ex-leaders. But no new entrants came to Congress. In such a scenario, a very brave Sharmila Reddy decided to take the chance. It was evident to all that Congress High command accepted offer of Sharmila Reddy to lead the Congress, as there was really no other solution in sight. Sharmila was searching for a re-launch of her political career, after the collapse of her YSR Telangana party. It suited both the Congress and Sharmila to have her as state Congress President.

1. Shamila Reddy comes from a famous political family and she herself has been in the thick of politics since 2009. She knows every aspect of politics.  

2. Sharmila has made an effort to get all senior leaders to contest the elections. She has been partially successful, but many leaders were expert escape–artists and refused to contest. They gave interesting reasons. But they refused to contest. This will reduce the effectiveness of Congress.

3. Some senior ex-Ministers have agreed to contest. But generally, the Congress leaders with big resources refused to contest. These leaders don’t want to lose badly as it would become known that that they are political zeroes.  

4. Most Congress leaders pretend to support Sharmila Reddy and they travel with her and make all the right noises. But these senior leaders are waiting to see whether she succeeds or fails. If Sharmila Reddy manages to get the Congress 5% votes, then everybody will claim the credit. If Congress flops again, then they will place the blame on Sharmila.  

Whose votes will Congress take? The Congress dominated Andhra till 2014. After the rise of YSR Congress, it was felt that Congress voters shifted to YSR Congress. But that may not be true. The Congress vote shifted to all parties in Andhra. Now since Sharmila is heading the Congress, naturally people feel the old Congress voters will support her and this means a loss to the YSR party. 

Impact of Sharmila contesting Cuddapah parliament seat: Definitely, it has become a very interesting contest. The fact that Sharmila is contesting Cuddapah will impact her brother YSR Jagan. There is also the added issue of Vivekanand Reddy murder case. Therefore, the entire election will become a big contest.  As Sharmila is daughter of YSR Rajasekhar Reddy, local loyalties might be divided. If Sharmila wins or does well, then it will help the Congress very much. But if Sharmila loses badly, then again, she will have another career-challenge. In the Congress party, other leaders are cruel to losers and sycophantic to winners. Now everyone praises Revanth Reddy.  But if Congress had lost Telangana, then Revanth Reddy would have been hounded out by other leaders.

TDP, Jana sena and BJP happy with Sharmila: The TDP alliance is happy with Sharmila, as they expect her to weaken YSR Jagan. But it remains to be seen whether the TDP alliance will support Sharmila in Cuddapah openly or even secretly. One thing is sure and that is the TDP has no long-term interest in a good political career for Sharmila Reddy. In the short term, like all politicians, they want to use her against Jagan. According to political experts, when a political party gets less than 10% votes and not get a share in power for more than 10 years, it will slowly vanish. The Congress is doing very badly in Andhra for 10 years. If it wants to revive, the Congress in Andhra must do well. Or it will slowly become a zero party like in Uttar Pradesh and other states.

(Author is a Politico, Economic Analyst based at New Delhi)

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