YS Jagan Mohan Reddy who is fighting a bitter battle for power in Andhra Pradesh seems to be squandering away the political opportunities by faltering on political and electoral strategies.
Contrary to the earlier declared stand to oppose NDA nominee in the elections for the deputy chairman of Rajyasabha to protest against the centre’s denial of special status to Andhra Pradesh, the YSR Congress abstained from voting indirectly contributing to the victory of the candidate of BJP led combine in this crucial elections.
Earlier, Jagan Mohan Reddy was setting the agenda while the TDP supremo was following . Jaganmohan Reddy steadfastly adhered to the special status demand as Naidu ,part of NDA has disowned the demand and settled for special package. But, Jagan persisted with the demand for special status and rejected the special package. As the special status sentiment continued to rouse, Chandrababu Naidu realising his political folly jumped on to the special status bandwagon.
Jaganmohan Reddy was seeking the exit of ministers from state in the Modi led government to exert pressure on the centre. Chandrababu Naidu remaining in NDA rejected the demand calling it a futile exercise. The argument of the TDP was that it could reap the maximum for the state by continuing in the ministry led by Narendra Modi.
But, as things changed, TDP severed its ties with BJP and the ministers walked out of the NDA government. But, Jagan without relenting sought the exit of TDP from NDA. Naidu, who first rebuked the idea ,ultimately did the same giving YS Jagan Mohan Reddy political advantage.
A similar somersault was seen by the TDP on the No-confidence motion against Modi government. Rejecting the demand for no confidence motion, Chandrababu Naidu said that the Modi government is not vulnerable for such pressure tactics as it enjoyed the enough support in Lok Sabha. However, Naidu said that it would only be a last resort as any such move would not yield any positive result. But, the YSR Congress went ahead with its strategy and moved no confidence motion in Lok Sabha. Perturbed by this development, the chief Minister told the state legislative Assembly that his party would support no confidence motion irrespective of who proposes it.
But, by the next morning realising the political costs of such a move, the TDP altered its stand and rejected the YSR Congress motion. Instead, the TDP moved its own no confidence motion which anyhow did not come to the house during the budget session. Thus, until then from special status to no confidence motion, YSR Congress was leading in dictating the agenda in the state politics. Despite being in power, the TDP was only reacting to the proactive moves of the opposition YSR Congress.
But, later things seems to be changing as Jagan is kicking self goals one after the other.
In a frantic bid to further score over the TDP, Jaganmohan Reddy announced his decision to seek the resignations of his party MP’s in protest against the central government evading no confidence motion during the budget session on some or other pretext. However, the delayed acceptance of the resignations by the Speaker and the failure of the YSR Congress to get its MP’s resignations accepted made elections not possible . This has created political opinion that YSR Congress MPs had a clandestine deal with BJP to avoid the elections as saffron brigade too not ready for by polls.
The TDP successfully harped over it to create an adverse opinion on YSR Congress that it is hobnobbing with the Modi regime. Already there is a perception that YSR Congress is soft towards BJP . Even in its polemics on special status, the Jagan’s party was primarily targeting the TDP without any serious attack on BJP.
Jaganmohan Reddy’s unambiguous support to NDA candidates in Presidential and vice presidential elections further strengthened such a political perception about YSR congress alleged relationship with BJP, the party that blatantly denied special status.
In politics optics certainly matter. More so in a media rich political environment. Thus, the YSR Congress certainly lost such a perception battle.
Added to this Jaganmohan Reddy’s unwarranted comments on the personal life of Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan were politically disastrous. . At a time when the actor turned politician was seriously attacking Chandrababu Naidu , Jagan should have acted intelligently to get a favourable space in the Pawan’s massive fan following. More specifically, Jagan’s unwanted utterances have certainly incurred the wrath of Kapus who constitute a sizable voting in many constituencies.
Within few days of this episode, Jaganmohan Reddy made controversial comments on the demand for Kapu reservations. The YSR Congress leader who earlier wanted Tamil Nadu type formula to accommodate Kapus said that he cannot do anything on the issue as it is in the hands of centre and the Supreme Court verdict does not allow for more than 50 percent reservations. Though, Jagan tried to do the damage control and pacify the Kapus, the strategy has certainly boomeranged. The TDP took an unusual advantage of this to bolster the image of their party among Kapus.
Political observers feel that Jagan did not make that statement on Kapus by mistake. It was a clever strategy to allure OBC voters. But, as his retreat on Kapus did not make any great positive impact on OBCs, Jagan was forced to reiterate his support for kapu quota.
Besides, Jagan’s resignation strategy has also proved to be counterproductive with the Speaker taking up the no confidence motion in the monsoon session. The TDP’s motion was taken up and the party was in the limelight leaving the YSR Congress former MP’s to protests outside the Parliament that failed to make any impact.
Thus, Jagan Mohan Reddy seems to be lacking in sound political and electoral strategy even though he was backed by likes of Prashant Kishor in strategy making.
( Prof.K. Nageshwar is India’s noted political analyst. He is a former member of the Telangana Legislative Council and professor in the Department of Communication & Journalism, Osmania University, Hyderabad, India )
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