Hyderabad, June 15: Emerging as a major force in Andhra Pradesh politics, the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) Friday bagged the Nellore Lok Sabha and 15 of the 18 assembly seats in by-polls billed as the semi-finals before the 2014 assembly elections.
The fledgling party dealt a major blow to both the ruling Congress and main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) by winning all the seats with a thumping majority.
Despite its founder Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, the son of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, being jailed during the campaign in illegal assets case, the one-year-old party swept the polls. The Congress party finished a poor second with two seats while TDP drew a blank.
The ruling party lost deposit in five assembly constituencies and the TDP in three. Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) won the lone assembly seat that went to polls in Telangana.
YSRCP’s huge victory could spell trouble for Congress government as the ruling party fears exodus of its legislators.
While Congress termed the results as emotional mistake by people and TDP attributed it to the public sympathy in the wake of Jagan’s arrest, the YSRCP claimed it reflect the huge support it enjoys among people and reflects the people’s aspiration to see the kind of governance provided by YSR, as the late chief minister was popularly known.
Tuesday’s by-elections were held after the resignation of a member of parliament and disqualification of 17 legislators of the Congress who had switched loyalties to the YSRCP.
The Tirupati assembly seat fell vacant after the election of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi to the Rajya Sabha.
Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy of the YSRCP retained Nellore Lok Sabha seat with a massive majority of more than 291,745 votes over his nearest rival and former central minister T. Subbarami Reddy of the Congress party.
The results mean YSRCP wrested 13 seats won by Congress in 2009 and two seats from Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), which has now merged with Congress. TRS snatched one seat from the Congress.
The Congress drew solace from the fact that it escaped a total humiliation by retaining two seats. This will improve the ruling party’s slender majority in the 294-member house. With two seats, its tally has now gone up to 154.
The strength of YSRCP and TRS in the assembly has increased to 17 each.
TRS managed to scrape through in Parkala, the only assembly seat which went to the polls in the Telangana region.
In a close battle, TRS candidate Bhikshapati defeated YSRCP’s Konda Surekha by over 1,562 votes. The fact that YSRCP came a close second in the TRS bastion shows the inroads the party has made in all the regions.
Congress won a seat each in East Godavari and West Godavari districts in coastal Andhra but lost seven other seats in the region.
YSRCP won all the three assembly seats in Jagan’s native YSR Kadapa district and made a clean sweep in Rayalseema region by winning all eight seats.
Chiranjeevi received a big setback in Tirupati, a seat he won in the 2009 election as Karunakar Reddy, a close aide of late YSR, defeated the Congress candidate by 17,723 votes.
The vacancy arose after Chiranjeevi was recently elected to the Rajya Sabha.
Chiranjeevi, who had floated PRP in the temple town in 2008, merged his party with the Congress last year. The Telugu superstar, who campaigned aggressively in all the constituencies along with central leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Vayalar Ravi, Oscar Fernandes and others, failed to makeany impact.
PRP also lost Allagadda seat in Kurnool district where Shoba Nagi Reddy of YSRCP was elected.
The defeat of the Congress in Tirupati was also a jolt for Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy as he could not ensure a win in his home district of Chittoor.
It was also a blow for TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu as he too comes from the same district.
Jagan celebrated party’s victory in Chanchalguda Central Jail. His mother Y.S. Vijayamma, wife Bharati, sister Sharmila and others called on him in the jail to congratulate him.
He was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and sent to jail May 27 in an illegal assets case when he was busy campaigning for the party.
His mother and sister managed to evoke sympathy by accusing the Congress and TDP of targeting Jagan.