Hyderabad: Battle lines are being drawn in Andhra Pradesh as the ruling YCP and opposition Telugu Desam Party slug it out at the municipal elections slated to be held on March 23 as well as zilla parishad territorial constituencies (ZPTCs) and mandal parishad territorial constituencies (MPTCs) to be held in two phases on March 27 and 29. Nominations for the MPTC and ZPTC polls had already begun. The municipal elections will be held in a single phase on March 23 and counting of votes will be taken up on March 27. Elections will not be held in Rajamahendravaram, Nellore and Srikakulam municipal corporations due to pending court cases.
The YCP is seeing the municipal elections as prestigious coming as it does for the first time after witnessing landslide victory in the 2019 Assembly elections. Both the parties have geared up to test their political fate in the local body polls which serve as litmus test for YCP and TDP. For the YCP, the elections will gauge the mood of the people on the performance of Jagan’s party in the last nine-months and also perhaps on the thorny and contentious issue of three capitals announced by the chief minister. However, the YCP received a setback after SEC directed the state government to put on hold its decision to distribute 26 lakh house sites for the poor as it can influence the voters. The YCP also received a blow from the Andhra Pradesh High Court that had quashed a government order granting 59 per cent reservations in local body elections and directed the ruling party to confine to only 50 per cent reservations.
For the TDP, the elections will be a do-or-die battle and puts a question mark on its survival in Andhra Pradesh. The YCP is heavily banking on the ‘Navaratnas’ or the nine welfare schemes including YSR Rythu Bharosa, Fee Reimbursement, Arogyasri, Jalayagnam, Ban on alcohol, YSR Asara, Amma Vodi, YSR Cheyutha, Pedhalandariki Illu and Pensionala Pempu. The YCP leaders think the welfare programmes will help the party sweep the civic polls and expects history to repeat much like the 2019 Assembly elections when the electorate gave the party a thumping mandate.
On its part, the TDP will try to tear into the YCP camp on issues like acquisition of assigned lands for the distribution of house sites and deletion of some names of beneficiaries from ration cards’ list.
The YCP is taking no chances and conducting a flash survey to zero in on winning horses. The key criteria for selecting candidates for the Greater Vishakapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), the YCP announced, will be winnability and loyalty. The YCP unleashed an exercise for selection of the candidates, a panel comprising MLAs and Assembly constituency coordinators had been set up for the same.