In a rude jolt to Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSRCP, the Opposition TDP won all three MLC graduates constituencies that went to the polls on March 13 in the Andhra Pradesh MLC elections.
While the result of two segments was announced on Saturday, the third segment was formally declared by the poll authorities on the morning of Sunday, 19 March, amidst high drama.
Though TDP candidate Bhumireddy Ramgopal Reddy was declared the winner by the poll authorities Saturday night, there was a delay in handing over the declaration to him.
Suspecting foul play, he and other TDP leaders at the Anantapur counting centre staged a protest late in the night. Ramgopal Reddy was also taken into custody by the police.
However, on Sunday morning he was given a declaration certificate by Returning Officer S Nagalakshmi.
TDP candidates Vepada Chiranjeevi Rao, Kancharla Srikanth Chowdhary and Bhumireddy Rambhupal Reddy won the North Andhra, East Rayalaseema, and West Rayalaseema graduate constituencies, respectively, with decisive margins.
Also read: AP MLC election results, 23 March: YSRCP wins 6, but faces 1 bitter defeat as MLAs cross-vote for TDP
The contested seat
While the YSRCP candidate Vennapusa Ravindra Reddy, in the West Rayalaseema segment, maintained a slim margin over the TDP candidate in the first preferential vote counting, he lost in the second preferential vote.
Since no candidate secured 50 percent qualified votes in the first preferential vote counting, poll authorities went into the elimination process. In the elimination process, TDP candidate Rambhupal Reddy secured a 7,543-vote majority.
The YSRCP has, however, demanded the recount of the votes.
Party general secretary Lella Appireddy wrote to the chief electoral officer of Andhra Pradesh and the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) seeking a recount.
“The collector and the District Election Authority has indicated in proceedings Rc.No.Elections/3320/2022 dated 17.03.2023 that in the 19th table at the end of 9th round, it was noticed that 6 votes have been transferred to TDP Candidate 50 bundle by oversight and the same were re-transferred to the YSRCP Candidate. This clearly indicates that such irregularities have taken place during several rounds of counting which necessitates that recounting shall be taken up for all the rounds in the interest of justice and fair declaration of the correct results,” said Appireddy in his letter.
The teachers’ constituencies
Meanwhile, the YSRCP’s teachers’ constituency candidates Parvathareddy Chandrasekhar Reddy and MV Ramachandra Reddy won the two respective seats by small margins of around 2,000 and 169 votes, respectively.
Jagan’s top aide, Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy said the MLC polls don’t represent all the sections of society.
“We were successful in winning both the teachers’ constituencies. There is no need for them (the TDP) to burst into celebration or for us to feel disappointed with these results.”
“The actual beneficiaries of our welfare schemes — which brought light into the homes of the poor — are not the voters in these polls. So, these results don’t reflect the total society in the state.
“Maybe we have to check whether we are able to reach everyone or not and gear up for the next polls,” Ramakrishna Reddy told reporters.
Wake-up call for YSRCP
These results should potentially ring alarm bells in the ruling party camp as polls for the MLC graduates’ constituencies were keenly watched as they were spread in 108 of the total 175 Assembly segments in nine districts.
The results are being seen as reflecting the mood of the public, especially among educated voters, ahead of the general elections that are just 14 months away.
The North Andhra segment comprises Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram, and Srikakulam districts, the East Rayalaseema segment comprises Chittoor, Nellore, and Prakasam districts, and West Rayalaseema comprises Kadapa, Anantapur, and Kurnool districts. All these districts are considered YSRCP strongholds.
These polls have also put a stop to the dream run of Jagan Mohan’s YSRCP, which has been winning every election held since 2019 — be it to rural and urban local bodies, Zilla Praja Parishad Territorial Constituencies (ZPTCs), Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTCs), and bypolls to Tirupati Lok Sabha and Badvel Assembly segments.
The polls have also provided much-needed impetus and relief to the N Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP that has been facing a sort of existential crisis since the last polls.
In 2019, TDP faced a humiliating defeat, confining itself to just 23 seats.
Andhra Pradesh MLC election results
On Friday night, 17 March, the TDP candidate in the North Andhra segment, Vepada Chiranjeevi Rao, secured the required 94,510 votes in the second-preference counting.
At the end of the eighth round of the first-preference vote, Chiranjeevi Rao was leading by a margin of 27,350 votes against YSRCP candidate Sitamraju Sudhakar.
During the first-preference counting, the TDP candidate polled 82,956 votes — just 11,551 votes short of the magic figure. Following this, second-preference counting was taken up.
With 786 second-preference votes from 32 independents, 3,000 from BJP’s PVN Madhav, and 8,000 votes from Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) candidate K Ramaprabha, Chiranjeevi Rao was declared the winner.
The TDP had an “understanding” with the Left parties-backed PDF over the second-preference vote.
YSRCP candidate Sudhakar polled only 59,644 votes.
Polling for three graduates’, two teachers’, and four local bodies’ segments was held on 13 March and counting began on Thursday.
Chiranjeevi Rao and Kancharla Srikanth were bestowed the winning election certificate on Saturday morning.
Letting the numbers talk
Of the total polled 2,01,335 votes in the North Andhra graduates’ segment, in the first-preference votes counted in eight rounds, the TDP candidate polled around 41.2 percent of the votes and the YSRCP candidate secured only 27.25 percent.
Notably, just four years ago, in the 2019 polls, of the total 34 Assembly segments in three districts of North Andhra, YSRCP won 28 seats and TDP only six seats. Of the TDP’s six, four are in Visakhapatnam.
In the East Rayalaseema constituency, of the total polled 2,69,339 votes, around 20,979 votes have been declared invalid. The remaining 2,48,360 first-preference votes were counted in seven rounds.
After counting first and second-preference votes, TDP’s Srikanth polled around 1,12, 686 votes and the YSRCP candidate Pernati Syamprasad Reddy polled 85,423 votes. Counting went on till late on Friday night.
In West Rayalaseema constituency, YSRCP candidate Vennapusa Ravindra Reddy established a marginal lead of 1,382 votes over his TDP rival Bhumireddy Ramgopal Reddy at the end of the seventh round. Counting of the second-preference votes is going on.
BJP’s utter failure
BJP candidate PVN Madhav, in the North Andhra segment, lost his deposit. If a candidate fails to secure at least one-sixth of the total polled valid votes, they will not get the deposit refund.
In the North Andhra segment, the total valid votes were 2,01,335, of which a candidate should secure at least 31,502 votes to get the deposit back. However, Madhav secured only 10,884.
This seat was crucial for the BJP, which won it in 2017 with the support of the TDP. This time, the BJP banked on Jana Sena Party (JSP) support. But the JSP party workers stayed away from the BJP campaign.
Jagan’s downfall has begun: Lokesh
The outcome of the elections held for the graduates’ constituencies in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council clearly indicates that the downfall of Chief Minister Jagan Mohan has begun and it is the TDP that is going to come back to power, observed TDP national general secretary and former minister Nara Lokesh.
Addressing a massive public meeting at Mulakalacheruvu village of the Thamballapalle Assembly segment on Friday during his ongoing Yuva Galam padayatra, Lokesh expressed confidence that the TDP is all set to assume power in the coming polls.
Observing that he is fortunate enough to conclude his padayatra, Yuva Galam, in Chittoor district at a historic place like Thamballapalle, which produced fighters who fought for liberation, Lokesh said that he walked for 45 days in the district covering 14 Assembly segments spread over 577 km to gain first-hand information on the problems being faced by the people.
ఉమ్మడి చిత్తూరు జిల్లాలో 14అసెంబ్లీ నియోజకవర్గాలు, 45రోజులు, 577 కిలోమీటర్లు యువగళం పాదయాత్ర అడ్డంకులు అధిగమించి సాఫీగా సాగడానికి సహకరించిన టిడిపి కుటుంబం, అభిమానులు, ప్రజలు, మీడియా మిత్రులందరికీ కృతజ్ఞతలు.(2/3)#YuvaGalamPadayatra pic.twitter.com/Wt7NaMS4xE
— Lokesh Nara (@naralokesh) March 17, 2023
Expressing deep satisfaction over the affection shown by the people of the combined Chittoor district, Lokesh profusely thanked the police and the local TDP leaders for their cooperation extended to him.
People have rejected divisive, violent rule: Kinjarapu
TDP MP from Srikakulam, Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu, said that the defeat of the YSRCP in the graduates’ MLC elections is a clear indication that the people reject the “divisive and violent rule” of Jagan Mohan Reddy.
These elections are a referendum on four years of YSRCP rule as these graduates’ MLC constituencies together represent 108 Assembly constituencies.
“Despite the YSRCP’s attempts to manipulate the voter list, create fake voters, and use violence, TDP scored astonishing victories in Uttarandhra and Rayalaseema (which is considered the bastion of Jagan Mohan). Fed up with Jagan’s ruling, the message from the people is clear — they want Chandrababu Naidu to come back as chief minister and bring the state out of the crisis created since the YSRCP came to power in 2019,” said Kinjarapu.
"You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
— Ram Mohan Naidu Kinjarapu (@RamMNK) March 17, 2023
He added, “The MLC election results also show that Jagan should not have messed with government employees or betrayed the youth. Jagan betrayed the youth on his promise of a job calendar and Mega DSC after becoming chief minister, and he harassed government employees, especially teachers who were asking for timely salary, DA arrears, PRC, and revoking of CPS.”
This victory has energised TDP karyakartas to work with an even stronger resolve and sweep all 175 seats in the 2024 elections and rebuild Andhra Pradesh for a better future, Kinjarapu added.
In full celebration
Former minister and TDP senior leader in Visakhapatnam north, MLA Ganta Srinivas Rao, said that MLC polls proved that there will be better results if there is no split in anti-YSRCP votes, as being propagated by Jana Sena supremo Pawan Kalyan.
TDP workers celebrated the victory at the party headquarters in Mangalagiri by bursting crackers and raising slogans hailing the leadership of Lokesh.
జగన్ రెడ్డి తమ భవిష్యత్తును, రాష్ట్రాన్ని నాశనం చేస్తుంటే ఏం చేయాలో తోచని ప్రజల పక్షాన నిలిచి పోరాడింది తెలుగుదేశం పార్టీ. దాని ఫలితమే ఎమ్మెల్సీ ఎన్నికల విజయాలు. ఆ జోష్ ని టీడీపీ శ్రేణులు పార్టీ కేంద్ర కార్యాలయం వద్ద సంబరాలుగా మార్చుకున్నారు. pic.twitter.com/DdpDpAV3l6
— Telugu Desam Party (@JaiTDP) March 18, 2023
Time for introspection for YSRCP
YSRCP insiders had told South First that the MLC polls are definitely a wake-up call and that the party is fortunate that they had come a year before the general elections. He said the party had time to introspect and make changes to its strategies.
On losing the North Andhra segment, a senior YSRCP functionary said that Sitamraju Sudhakar was the wrong choice of candidate.
He also noted that there was a lack of proper poll management and stated the need for better coordination among local leaders.
The YSRCP functionary further noted that Chiranjeevi has been working on the ground for more than six months and he is an academician, which worked in his favour as his students were spread across the three districts and worked for him sincerely.