Saturday, June 16, 2012

Jagan Mohan Reddy sweeps Andhra Pradesh by-elections; parties worried over defections

In an outcome that may enthuse large scale defections from both ruling and opposition parties and compelling changes in the ruling Congress government and leadership in Andhra Pradesh, the YSR Congress Party has swept the by-elections on Friday.

Led by Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of Andhra's late strong man YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the YSR Congress Party won 15 Assembly and one Parliament seats in the elections held for 18 Assembly and one Parliament seats. Congress won two and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) one Assembly seats.

Of the 18 Assembly seats that went to poll, Congress held 17 and TDP one. The by-elections were caused owing to disqualification of MLAs for switching loyalties to the YSR CP and on resignation of a Congress MP.

The poll outcomes have sent shock waves not just for ruling Congress and opposition Telugu Desam, but also to TRS, the separatist party fighting for statehood to Telangana region, as it just managed to scrape through in Parkal in Warangal district of Telangana, which is considered a stronghold for the separatist movement.

Jagan, who could not campaign for his party candidates in the by-elections that were touted as semi-finals for the ensuing general elections in 2014, was confined to his prison room at the Chanchalguda Central Jail after he was arrested by the CBI on 27 May.

The CBI is probing into the alleged disproportionate assets of Jagan, accusing him of amassing huge wealth by misusing the office of his late father when he was chief minister for six years till September 2009. He was also accused of weaving a web of businesses and making several industrialists to pay bribes in the form of investments into his businesses for the favours the YSR government doled out to them.

"The timing of Jagan's arrest, which forced his mother Vijayamma and sister Sharmila to take up the by-elections campaign, appears to have resulted in a sympathy wave in favour of his party candidates," says Congress chief whip Gandra Venkata Ramana Reddy.

He also admits that the ruling Congress party could not convince the public either on the huge corruption of Jagan and also failed in highlighting the government welfare programs.