In a keenly-contested election, the ruling YSRCP, which was nursing its wounds after a jolt in the recently held in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council election for graduates’ constituencies, faced yet another setback on Thursday, 23 March 2023, in the seven MLC polls under the MLA quota.
The TDP sprang a surprise by winning the lone seat it contested. TDP candidate Panchumarthy Anuradha won the seat by securing 23 votes — one more than the required margin of 22.
The AP MLC election results established that at least four YSRCP MLAs resorted to cross-voting.
It was expected that the YSRCP’s two rebel MLAs — Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy from the Nellore Rural segment and Anam Ramanarayan Reddy from the Venkatagiri segment — would vote for the TDP candidate.
In a shocker, two more ruling-party legislators cross-voted and delivered a bitter defeat to the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP.
TDP move in 2023 AP MLC election surprised many
In a surprising move, the TDP had fielded a candidate in one of the seven MLC seats under the MLA quota at the last minute.
The deft move caught the ruling YSRCP unawares. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy cautioned the ministers against being complacent after a Cabinet meeting in Amaravati on 14 March.
The YSRCP expected a cakewalk in all seven seats when the TDP threw down its gauntlet.
With the numbers in its favour, the ruling YSRCP could have comfortably won six seats, while the contest for the seventh seat was closely watched.
The TDP fielding its MLC candidate at the last minute necessitated polling, which was held on Thursday.
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The 2023 AP MLC election results
As the counting started at 5 pm, everyone followed the minute-to-minute developments in rapt attention. Anuradha’s win came in the first hour itself.
The YSRCP-backed candidates — Marri Rajasekhar, VV Suryanarayana Raju Penumatsa, Pothula Sunitha, Jayamangala Venkataramana, B Israel, and Chandragiri Yesuratnam — won their seats comfortably, each securing the 22 votes required.
While Jayamangal Venkataramana and Kola Gurvulu polled 21 votes each, one short of the required numbers, Ramana won with the help of second-preferential votes.
Interestingly, it was only recently that Venkataramana — former MLA from the Kaikaluru segment — crossed over to the YSRCP from the TDP.
The YSRCP candidate from Visakhapatnam, Kola Guruvulu, lost to Anuradha. Kola Guruvulu has been with the YSRCP for a long time. A backward-community leader, Anuradha was the former mayor of Vijayawada.
పద్మశాలి వర్గానికి చెందిన @AnuradhaTdp ఎమ్మెల్సీగా విజయం సాధించడంతో గ్రామాలతో సహా మంగళగిరి నియోజకవర్గం అంతటా చేనేత కార్మికులు, తెలుగుదేశం నాయకులు, కార్యకర్తలు సంబరాల్లో మునిగిపోయారు. చేనేత వర్గానికి టిడిపి ఇచ్చిన గౌరవం అంటూ ప్రజలు హర్షం వ్యక్తం చేసారు.#ByeByeJaganIn2024 pic.twitter.com/c9MVe2zCD3
— Telugu Desam Party (@JaiTDP) March 23, 2023
The number game
The YSRCP won 151 and TDP 23 seats in the 2019 Assembly polls. After the general elections, at least four TDP MLAs crossed floors, reducing the TDP’s strength in the Assembly to 19.
MLAs Vallabhaneni Vamsi from Gannavaram, Karanam Balaram from Chirala, Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar from Visakhapatnam South, and Maddali Giridhar from Guntur West “unofficially” defected to the YSRCP: They have been staying away from TDP-sponsored programmes.
However, the TDP has not suspended them from the party or sought their disqualification. The lone Jana Sena MLA, Rapaka Vara Prasad, is also supporting the YSRCP.
In Thursday’s AP MLC elections, while each candidate needed 22 MLA votes for victory, the YSRCP needed the support of 154 MLAs.
However, the party was not sure which way the rebel MLAs Kotamreddy Sreedhar Reddy and Anam Ramanarayana Reddy would go.
If the rebels decided to vote against the ruling party, the TDP would get two additional votes, but would still fall short of the winning number by one.
However, two more votes to TDP candidate Anuradha shifted the debate to who were the “black sheep” from the YSRCP camp.
Also read: AP MLC election results: BJP cadres prefer TDP to YSRCP
YSRCP efforts in 2023 AP Legislative Council election
Following the jolt in the Legislative Council polls for the graduates’ segments, the YSRCP leadership put in a lot of effort in the last few days to avoid any embarrassment in the MLA quota polling.
The party even conducted at least three mock polls with its MLAs. The YSRCP gave the responsibility of 22 MLAs each to one senior leader of the party.
YSRCP supremo YS Jagan Mohan hosted a dinner for his MLAs on Wednesday night. The MLAs were also put up in star hotels in the city in groups.
Nevertheless, two of them unexpectedly voted against the party candidate.
The discussion has now shifted to who could have cross-voted from the YSRCP. And fingers are being pointed at Tadikonda MLA Undavallui Sreedevi.
The Tadikonda segment comes under capital region Amaravati’s purview, and Sreedevi has been facing a lot of heat from her voters due to the anti-Amaravati stance of the the YSRCP government, which supports the three-capitals plan.
Jagan also recently replaced her with another leader, Dokka Manikyavara Prasad, as the party’s constituency in charge.
Interestingly before the polling on Thursday, Sreedevi was said to have met Jagan and discussed her compulsions.
There was no clarity about the second cross-voter.
There was also high drama throughout Thursday, and it started with Gorantla Butchaiah Chowdhary, the TDP MLA from Rajahmundry, claiming in the morning — before going to the polling station — that at least 16 MLAs from the YSRCP were in touch with his party.
“At least 16 YSRCP MLAs are in touch with us. They are all ready to support the TDP. They are waiting for the opportune time to come out in the open. We are sure our candidate will win,” said Butchaiaih Chowdhary.
However, YSRCP leaders ruled out any such possibility.
“TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu is an expert in playing mind games. Our MLAs being in touch with the TDP is only a mind game being played by Naidu and his team. All our seven candidates will win,” said Industries Minister Gudivada Amarnath.
YSRCP rebel MLA Kotamreddy Sreedhar Reddy said after casting his vote: “I voted as per my conscience. It’s not right to openly say who I voted for.”
As every single vote turned crucial in the keenly contested 2023 AP MLC election, the YSRCP leadership is said to have arranged for a special flight for Badhukonda Appala Naidu, its MLA from the Nellemerla segment in the northern part of the state.
He was busy with his son’s marriage until Thursday morning. Immediately after the marriage, he rushed to the Gannavaram airport on a special flight and reached the Assembly hall in the afternoon and voted.
He was the last person to vote in the polling held on Thursday.
Significance of Number 23 in Andhra politics
Jagan has never missed an opportunity in the last four years to ridicule the TDP, saying it was reduced to just 23 seats in the 2019 Assembly polls, and the results came out on 23 May.
On Thursday, it was the TDP’s turn to give it back, as its candidate won in the AP MLC election with 23 votes — and the year was 2023.
Jagan earlier also claimed that the public and God had given a tight slap to the TDP leaders by confining them to just 23 MLAs and three MPs — the same number of MLAs and MPs Naidu had inducted into the TDP between 2014 and 2019.
He recalled how Naidu had “bought” YSRCP MLAs like cattle and made four of them ministers, making them sit in the treasury benches.
On Thursday, TDP scion and former minister Nara Lokesh raked up these jibes.
“You ridiculed us that we had only 23 MLAs. In the end, on the same 23rd, with the same 23 votes, your defeat is our victory. Is this God’s script Jagan garu?” said Lokesh, whose ongoing walkathon Yuva Galam is on a Ugadi break in the Sri Satya Sai district.
ఎమ్మెల్సీగా విజయం సాధించిన విజయవాడ మాజీ మేయర్, చేనేత ఆడపడుచు, మా తెలుగుదేశం కుటుంబసభ్యురాలు @AnuradhaTdp గారికి హృదయపూర్వక శుభాకాంక్షలు. మేము 23 సీట్లే గెలిచామని ఎద్దేవ చేశావు. అందులో నలుగురిని సంతలో పశువుల్లా కొన్నావు.(1/2) pic.twitter.com/cXSpp4D4Q7
— Lokesh Nara (@naralokesh) March 23, 2023
TDP leaders and workers celebrated the 2023 AP MLC election results at the party headquarters in Mangalagiri.
“These elections show that not just the general public but also his own MLAs are not ready to trust YS Jagan Mohan Reddy,” said senior TDP leader and Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Payyavula Keshav.