The Battle for 2019: Andhra Pradesh

The Battle for 2019: Andhra Pradesh

                   The Battle for 2019: Andhra Pradesh Elections

Politics in Andhra Pradesh-

              The state of Andhra Pradesh has a long history of political conflicts and movements that cannot be ignored in India. Andhra Pradesh has the case of a single linguistic form and culture which is engulfed in political strife for decades. There are sub-regional movements pivoted on disparity and inequality for economic opportunities and development in this state. Looking back in time, Andhra was created in October 1953, as a separate state and in 1956, the Telugu speaking region of Telangana-the Nizam’s state of Hyderabad was merged to create Andhra Pradesh.

            In 1969, a powerful movement aimed towards a separate state of Telangana developed, because of the regional conflict and economic imbalance existing between Telangana and the Andhra region. There was a strong separatist sentiment based on many issues. The conflicts ranged from the level of development in each state (between Telangana and Andhra region), jobs for people, revenue contributed by the Telangana region to the overall growth of the state, farmers issues, education, class and caste conflicts which are a few to name.

            The twists and turns of political parties between national and regional players in this state has been a dynamic process in itself. During the merger of Telangana with Andhra Pradesh, in the year 1956, the two regions through their leaders had come to a ‘Gentleman’s agreement’ for the retainment of the Mulki rules being modified and agreed upon. Between 1968 and 1971, a lot of protests happened, and the Telangana movement gained momentum again! In 1972, with the continuation of the Mulki rules given by a direction of the Supreme Court through a judgement, it was again changed. But after, 1980 the Andhra agitation totally turned against the central government, and the idea of a united Andhra Pradesh looked bleak!

The Road to 2019 elections-

             One has to note that there were various reasons for the bifurcation that ensued which were cultural, political, demographic and socio-economic in nature. Another factor to look into is the aspect of caste politics in Andhra Pradesh. Psephologists also keep this aspect in mind apart from the numbers while looking through an election process. There have been many leaders at the forefront in Andhra Pradesh right from the days of M. K Vellodi and Burgula Ramakrishna Rao. Between 1953 and 2014, there have been alternating parties in power, predominantly (The INC (Indian National Congress) and the TDP (Telugu Desam Party)). Right from the days of N. T Rama Rao to Chandrababu Naidu taking over as the leader of the TDP, Y.S Rajashekar Reddy in 2004, and in 2014- Chandrababu Naidu forming an alliance with the BJP, the state of Andhra Pradesh has seen it all! However, this year there are many alliances and strategies being worked out by various political parties.

        Chandrababu Naidu had always preferred to be equidistant from the Congress and the BJP. But, in coalition politics, there is not much of a choice as the majority does count in any election. The discomfort of Naidu with the BJP on the issue of special status for Andhra Pradesh hasn’t gone well between TDP and Delhi. Also, Naidu’s political rivals were keen to cash in on this anti-BJP sentiment by the TDP. With wide protests in Vishakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Tirupathi, Nellore in 2017, on the ‘Special Category Status’, a lot has changed in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The Brass Tacks -

          With many leaders coming to the fore towards the 175 seat Assembly fight, the game has many equations. With actor and director Pawan Kalyan expressing his ambition through Jana Sena Party; the seasoned politician Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP, and Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy of the YSR Congress party, the prediction can really be difficult. Pawan Kalyan’s ability to win votes as a leading Tollywood figure definitely has a way out, however political experience and manoeuvrability also count! Development can really take a different connotation among voters. A Chief minister also needs to have the capability to lobby with Delhi and swing things in favour of Andhra Pradesh. However, nothing can truly be predicted. Currently, Jagan Mohan Reddy seems to have a lot of controversies surrounding his political journey. His father’s legacy left behind on his shoulders also needs to be carried forward in the state.

          Chandra Babu Naidu has had the experience and wherewithal in negotiating with Delhi whenever the occasion has demanded. His ability to deal with CEO’s and corporates, and to get funding from foreign agencies for the growth of industries in Andhra Pradesh is also noted by many voters. The present government has also given the record of a growth rate above 10% in Andhra Pradesh. There have also been many welfare schemes for the citizens of Andhra Pradesh. Mr Naidu has also got many big investments in the state through FDI (Foreign Direct Investment)/ Hero manufacturing hub; Smart city project for Amaravathi, helping farmers in distress are a few to name.

         The caste factor would also play a big role in this election. The Kapus have always shuffled between the TDP and opposition being a major community in Andhra. The Kammas too have backed the TDP before. The Reddy community has mostly favoured the Congress, and now the YSR Congress party. In this election Brahmins and Vaishyas too have a say which adds to the overall dynamics of an election process. There is also the factor of the promise for reservation to certain communities that could have an impact strategically. Almost every opinion today in most media houses have some sort of leaning towards a political party, ideology or leader, reinforcing a certain bias. This has a percolating effect. Truly, nobody can understand what goes on in the voter’s mind but the battle ahead for 2019 is just warming up!



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