» Election » 2 percent votes made the difference in AP assembly

2 percent votes made the difference in AP assembly

By Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
May 17, 2009 17:14 IST
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The opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh, specially the Telugu Desam Party, stunned by the resounding electoral defeat, will clearly take a long time to recover and mount a fresh challenge to a robust Congress party.  

While the Congress swept the Lok Sabha polls by winning 33 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, its performance was not so impressive in the state assembly elections. In fact, it merely scraped through, bagging only 155 seats in the 294-member state assembly, a loss of 30 seats from 2004. The Grand Alliance bagged 107 seats, ensuring that in his second term Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy will face a strong opposition.

Telugu Desam won 93 seats, up from 46. However TDP's partners put up a very poor performance. Telangana Rashtra Samiti won 10 seats down from 26 in 2004. The Left was also badly trounced in its strongholds of Nalgonda and Khammam. The CPI and the CPI-M could bag only five seats down from 17 in 2004.

However the opposition could take some heart from the fact that there was not a big difference in the percentage of popular votes. If Congress polled 37.03 percent votes on its own, about 63 percent votes were divided among the other parties. The Grand Alliance of four parties secured 35.56 percent of votes, about 1.5 percent less than that of the Congress.

Chiranjeevi's Praja Rajyam Party caused good amount of damage to the opposition was apparent from the fact that in its first election the party polled 15.6 percent of the votes and bagged 18 assembly seats. The BJP which contested 269 assembly seats polled 2.88 percent of votes and bagged two seats. The Lok Satta polled 1.72 percent of votes and got one seat. MIM increased its strength to 7 against five in last elections and polled about 1 percent of the votes.

It is apparent that the biggest factor in the success of Congress in retaining power in the state was the low index of opposition unity as the anti-Congress votes were scattered in different directions and the margins of victory were low in most constituencies.

Chief Minister Reddy tried to explain away the mismatch between the margin of victory in Lok Sabha and assembly by saying that local issues and personalities were at play in assembly polls. But analysts feel that while overwhelming majority of the people voted for the Manmohan Singh-led government in Delhi, such enthusiasm was missing towards the state government. 

TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu is feeling low after a second consecutive electoral defeat of his party. But he has promised to go in to the depth to find the real causes of the debacle. It will be debated at length at party's annual conference (Maha Nadu) in ten days time. Many TDP leaders are saying that joining hands with the TRS was a grave mistake.

The TDP leaders were also blaming its allies for their failure in transferring their votes to it where its candidates were in the fray.

A region wise break up shows that the Congress has put up better than expected performance in all the three regions. In the Telangana region, where Congress looked weaker on the paper, the party bagged 50 of 119 assembly seats. The TDP, which contested 69 assembly seats in the region secured 39 seats.

However the TDP's performance was the worst in its traditional stronghold of coastal Andhra where out of 123 assembly seats it could win only 37. Its performance was poor in Krishna, Guntur, Prakasham, Nellore and north coastal Andhra belt. The Congress swept the region with 73 seats. It was in this region that the Praja Rajyam bagged 13 of its 18 seats

 Of the 52 assembly seats in Rayalaseema region, the Congress won 32 and the TDP only 17 seats. In Kadapa, the home district of the chief minister, the Congress won nine of ten seats. The TDP also did very badly in its strongholds of Anantapur and Chittoor districts.

In Chittoor, the home district of Chandrababu Naidu, TDP got only six of the 14 seats. It was among the districts where the TDP was generally expected to sweep the polls. 

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad