In 2014, everyone expected YSRCP to win the election comfortably especially after the Party’s stunning performances in the by-poll elections in 2012. The YSRCP had then won 14 out of 18 Assembly seats and the lone Nellore Lok Sabha seat.
But in a stunning upset, Chandrababu Naidu came to power in 2014 and in retrospect there are four primary reasons for this:
The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh led even those favorable to YS Jagan to vote for the TDP as they believed the new State required an experienced administrator at the helm like Chandrababu Naidu. The middle classes were also swayed by the Modi-wave across the nation and his alliance with the TDP led them to vote for Chandrababu as they believed Central help will come to AP along with Special Status.
Loan waiver promise by Chandrababu Naidu
The TDP-pro media successfully managed to brainwash the public into believing that Jagan had embezzled Rs 1 lakh crore
Pawan Kalyan’s support to the TDP which took away a large chunk of the Kapu votes from YSRCP
All these factors combined gave the TDP an edge which eventually resulted in a voting difference of 5 lakh votes between the TDP-BJP combine and the YSRCP.
Today, in 2019, Jagan has emerged even stronger and spread his wings to all corners of the State with his immensely successful Padayatra.
Yet, even his staunch supporters will not underestimate the media-management skills of Chandrababu Naidu. So, compared to 2014, what are Jagan’s chances now and what mistakes should he avoid?
Clearly, a majority of the people of Andhra Pradesh are disillusioned with the 2.0 version of Chandrababu. Every politician is corrupt but when Chandrababu Naidu was the CM, Andhras benefitted from the development in Hyderabad. But today, in Andhra Pradesh, there is only corruption and hardly any development.
For the major part of these four years, Naidu has been busy in mud-slinging matches with the BJP and TRS while his community has run amok. Therefore, there is high anti-incumbency.
Besides, the denial of Special Status to the State by the BJP has alienated the Party from the good books of the people.
Another huge black mark against Chandrababu is his opportunistic policies over the Special Status issue.
When part of the NDA, he threatened to imprison those Andhras who demanded SCS over the ‘Package’ and when he came out of the NDA, he said nothing short of SCS was acceptable.
Putting his own interests above that of the people of Andhra Pradesh has created a serious dent in his credibility.
Second, the loan waiver promise by Chandrababu is not a feasible one at all and the State cannot afford it. Naturally, he made a complete hash of things and left the farmers demoralized.
Third, in response to the TDP’s claims of Jagan looting Rs 1 lakh crore, it has now been revealed that the charge sheets filed against Jagan add up to only Rs 11,000 crore.
A lesser amount does not absolve Jagan of the alleged corruption. But the cases are still pending and it is unbecoming of Chandrababu and the likes of Uma and Atchan Naidu to make allegations when the matter is sub judice.
Nevertheless, Chandrababu has a battery of television channels and newspapers owned by his fellow community members and they will go all out to keep him in power. But, the YSRCP has successfully managed to counter TDP propaganda on social media and they have a distinct edge in this sector.
In fact, the situation is similar to 2014 at the national level when the mainstream media was heavily biased towards the UPA but the social media saw massive support for Modi.
And finally, the Pawan Kalyan factor. Undoubtedly, the Kapus who voted for TDP will now vote for the Jana Sena and this is a huge problem for the TDP. But YS Jagan has given up on the Kapu vote bank. He believes that since the Kapus had not voted for him earlier and will now go with the Jana Sena, he is not making any special outreach to them.
Truth be told, his statement that it would not be possible to give reservations to Kapus because of constituional reasons did not go down well with them, but it consolidated Jagan’s vote bank among the BCs permanently as they are opposed to reservation for the Kapus.
On this issue, Naidu as usual is back to his two-eyed policy and does not give any clear indication.
To sum it up, Jagan is strongly placed to emerge victorious in 2019. So what does he need to achieve this?
The answer: Continue being among the people, avoid statements on controversial issues like Kapu reservation, pump up his digital media spending and stay clear of KCR.
There was no need for Jagan to speak on the Kapu issue. It was Chandrababu who had promised them reservation and the onus was on Chandrababu to deliver. But, in trying to appear as a ‘man of his word’ (probably ill-advised by Prashant Kishore), Jagan unnecessarily wallowed into the muddy waters of Chandrababu.
The YSRCP has been performing excellently on the social media in countering TDP propaganda and more funds should be allotted to keep up the good work.
Finally, whatever KCR may speak about Chandrababu Naidu, people of Andhra will never ever look upon him favorably. Therefore, any kind of support from KCR to YSRCP or any public worship of KCR by YCP cadre will boomerang as it will bolster the anti-Telangana sentiment among the Andhras to the benefit of Chandrababu.
The 2019 elections in all likelihood is a do-or-die battle for Jagan and Chandrababu. In essence, it all boils down to Jagan’s people power versus Chandrababu’s media power.
Which way will the winds flow?