Cover Story
Note on the Andhra Pradesh Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections
by N Murthy

Elections to the 18th Lok Sabha and 16th Assembly were held in Andhra Pradesh during the fourth phase, i.e. on 13 May 2024. Ten years of BJP's anti-people fascist rule and the widespread discontent against the regime, paved the way to strengthen the opposition unity at the national level with the formation of the INDIA alliance. But in Andhra Pradesh, there was a lack of a strong democratic alternative against both the YSR Congress rule in the state and Modi regime at the centre.

The ruling YSRCP and the opposition TDP both tried to align themselves with the BJP. The Indian National Congress was a weak force in the state, with vote share of the party falling to 1.31 percent in the 2019 General Elections. In this backdrop, there lacked a viable anti-fascist and anti-autocratic alternative. Although the BJP was never a strong force in Andhra Pradesh, it succeeded in bringing film actor Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena party into its fold along with his considerable fan base of youths and a large section of Kapu community, which is around 18% of the state population.

Sensing a strong anti-incumbency in the state, the BJP, which had maintained a close relation with YSR Congress Party for all these years, suddenly changed the track to form an alliance with the TDP. Taking the opportunity of the recent arrest of Chandrababu Naidu by Jagan Reddy government, the saffron party successfully moved pawns through Pawan Kalyan to bring TDP to the NDA fold.

Despite Jagan starting his election campaign much early and mobilising people in the name of ''memu siddam'' (we are ready), the party failed miserably in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. In the Assembly elections, the party was reduced to a mere 11 seats from the previous 151. According to observers, Jagan's overconfidence with his Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) welfare schemes that will automatically yield votes in his favour also proved a fatal mistake. Except for 3 ministers, all other cabinet ministers of the YSRCP were defeated.

Jagan's autocratic rule in the state along with the vicious targeting of opposition parties, including the arrest of Chandrababu Naidu, have played a crucial role in adding to the discontent against his government. Furthermore, the state was unable to secure any special status for Andhra Pradesh despite his closeness to the BJP and existing funds were spent on non-productive activities. The state had been facing a severe financial crunch. His decision to have three capitals for Andhra Pradesh also generated widespread public anger. The YSRCP regime's undemocratic and lax attitude towards people's issues, including the issue of price rise, ESMA on protesting workers like Anganwadis and non-implementation of job calendar along with rising unemployment had created severe dissatisfaction against the regime. Jagan's frequent hobnobbing with the BJP, despite increasingly dissatisfaction against BJP at the national level, led to the failure in the consolidation of anti-BJP votes in the state.

The INC, which was almost decimated in the AP politics, tried to revive itself by bringing in YS Sharmila, the sister of Jagan Mohan Reddy, and appointing her the Pradesh Congress President. The INC formed an alliance with CPI and CPI(M) and contested all seats. But despite this, INC and the alliance were unable to make any dent in the political landscape and failed to win any seats in the elections. CPIML independently contested in one parliament seat (Kakinada) and five assembly seats.

The polling witnessed an impressive 81.86 percent voter turnout in the state. A large number of women and youth participated in the voting, and a considerable number of migrant workers from AP came back from other states to cast their votes. IT employees and NRI's also enthusiastically came and exercised their voting rights.

The TDP-JS-BJP alliance achieved a massive victory by winning 164 seats out of 175, with TDP securing 135 seats and 21 by Jana Sena. In the Lok Sabha, the TDP-JS-BJP alliance secured 21 out of 25 seats.