Friday, May 30, 2014

The mischief continues!

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it for reference:

Informed discourse on English news channels has long remained a farce. Day one of Narendra Modi Government has reinforced this belief again. Instead of looking at crucial issues, the media created one controversy, lapped up to another, and continued to debate them endlessly. I always wondered what is a dignified way of describing our media that creates mindless controversies. Narendra Modi provided the answer – news traders. There is media and there are newstraders. One has to watch their channel to understand the glee with which they went about creating a controversy as if heavens had fallen down.
It began with this tweet by IBNLiveRealTime (it seems to have been deleted, but Kanchan Gupta’s tweet questioning Rajdeep Sardesai is here :
IBNLiveRealTime: We are in the process of repealing Article 370: MoS PMO Jitendra Singh
Many asked IBN to give a link to this interview, rather than just a tweet. Rajdeep Sardesai then tells us:
“For those who ask, we have MOS Jitendra Singh on camera saying he has begun the process of talking to stakeholders to abrogate article 370.”
Notice how intelligently he changed the language – MoS saying he has begin the “process of talking” is vastly different from “process of repealing“. Rajdeep Sardesai, however, does not find it prudent to apologise or clarify. In fact, he finds is extremely prudent to go ahead and milk this controversy he himself has created. So, we now have a debate at 8 pm on his channel. And at 8 pm, the video of the interview is played. You can watch the videohere (from 17:30 onwards). Rajdeep tweeted his “clarification” in the afternoon. In the night, IBN again repeats the same lie they tweeted in the afternoon.
Secular Rajdeep exposed again, old habits die hard
I strongly urge you to watch the video from 17:30 onwards. I challenge Rajdeep Sardesai to show us where the MoS told that the “process of repealing” has begun. Dr Jitendra Singh clarifies later that this controversy is baseless and he has been misquoted . Rajdeep, despite the overwhelming proof available, enlightens us thus:
“Ministers who claim to be misquoted must realise that in age of TV statements are on camera.”
Yes Rajdeep – they are on camera. Which is precisely why yet another lie of yours has been nailed comprehensively. There is another main point here. The BJP has consistently opposed Article 370. They now have a full mandate to go ahead with starting a debate on this. What exactly is controversial here? The Minister concerned is also from Jammu & Kashmir and has been elected by the people there. Quite obviously, he will have a better insight into the problem than those sitting in the studio and creating this needless controversy. As much as the likes of Rajdeep Sardesai hate it, the Narendra Modi Government has a clear mandate to go ahead and start the process of discussing this article with various stakeholders. It is a shame that he views this as “controversial”.
The second “controversy” is Congress’s arrogant response to the appointment of Smriti Irani as the HRD Minister of the country. Ajay Maken and later Abhishek Singhvi, in their capacity of spokespersons of the Congress have ridiculed her appointment saying that she is just 12th pass. This cheapness come naturally to the Congress, and it is a pity that these people don’t realise that it is this arrogance that cost them an election. Smriti Irani needs to be given time to perform, and if at all she does not live up to expectations (I originally wanted to use the word “fail” but realised that it means performing below what UPA did. And that’s impossible!), then we debate it.
Narendra Modi promised a smaller and a more “organic” Cabinet. He delivered on it, by integrating 17 different Ministries into seven main ones. He has even done some intelligent combining of responsibilities to some Ministers. The story of this Cabinet formation is the thought process that went into the re-distribution of these portfolios. But to write that story needs some serious thoughts, something which these folks are not used to, perhaps! Old habits die hard. The English TV media thrives only controversies – if there is none, then create one. News Traders seems such an apt term.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Why a Modi Sarkar excites me...

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference:

During our engineering student days, one of our professors told us a profound statement – engineering (and by extension, science) helps in the prosperity of mankind. Those were the days when we were just beginning to get exposed to the concept of Information Age, so we could not understand the significance of that statement. Fourteen years hence, when we see how technology has changed the face of the world, we cannot but wonder how India fell behind in the race to dominate the world, whilst our neighbour pounced upon the opportunity and paced ahead.
You might come back and say that India has become a hub of IT services and we see enough prosperity around. However, my argument is not restricted to IT services alone. One look at the civil engineering marvels of China or Dubai; one look at the domination of electronics industry by small countries like South Korea; one look at the investments that go into science education in China; one look at the not-so-impressive pace of science in agriculture – is enough to understand how we fell behind in this race. A simple example – while we struggled (actually we still continue to struggle!) to upgrade our IRCTC servers, China zoomed ahead with state-of-the-art bullet train and subway technology!
Politicians in India are somehow averse to promoting science or anything related to it. Due to a variety of factors, they ignore talking about technological growth because they fear alienation of poor voters! They are afraid to talk about the benefits technology will bring to the poor too. In fact, I feel they even refrain to think about how technology can be used to make people’s lives better! Rahul Gandhi even went ahead and told us that good roads are a waste of time and money – after all they don’t feed people! One of the reasons perhaps is the humiliating defeat Chandrababu Naidu faced in the 2004 elections – it simply created an impression that the discussion of this topic is taboo! Or perhaps, these politicians did not want the power of information to be easily available to the poor man – lest he becomes intelligent enough to see through their machinations!
And this is precisely why the idea of Modi Sarkar excites me a lot. In his speech to the national executive, Modi laid a lot of stress on the usage of technology. We finally have a Prime Minister who recognises the important of science in improving quality of life of ordinary citizens too. The same was reflected in the manifesto the BJP released. The words science and technology were one of the most used words in the manifesto. From ushering in bulltet trains to assisting farmers; from simplifying procedures to investing in high-quality research – Modi’s ideas have touched the right chord in those wanting to see the nation prosper. I am very eager to see how Modi uses the power of science and technology to guide India in the path of becoming a super-power. It would definitely be thrilling to see results of his increased focus of science in various fields like agriculture, medicine, security, manufacturing, construction, services, research, environment etc. It is a testimony to Modi’s vision that he has identified such diverse areas in which science can play a role.
The idea of Modi Sarkar is also exciting because of it’s single minded focus towards progress and development – Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas is such a simple yet powerful slogan. Minority in the country is the individual, and every individual will be made a soldier in this mission. Every individual contributing to the growth will be made to feel special. Modi’s speeches haven’t merely made rhetorical references to this development, but they have given us surgical insight into what he exactly means by development.
Sadly though, the discourse in the media has not yet reached that level of maturity. A quick look at the discussions over the past 3-4 days confirms this argument. Inane discussions on RSS control, 40 per cent vote share etc dominate the discourse. CNN-IBN last night said, “Will ache din really come?”. They will continue to look for reasons to harp on their staple diet – secularism. They will continue to have irrelevant discussions on obscure topics. For example, when the first bullet train gets launched in India, am sure sections of media will ask – but what about the poor?
There are a lot of expectations on Modi. Ordinary people would have collapsed by merely imaging the burden he is expected to carry. However, Modi has explained to us his mission with crystal clear clarity. The mission of Modi needs at least 5 years to show tangible results. It would be a travesty to judge him based on 100 days or even 1 year in office.  Here’s to “Ache Din” :) .

Congress Mukt Andhra Pradesh is complete!

The following article has been written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference:

We woke to a beautiful headline in the newspaper today – Over 150 candidates of the Congress in Seemandhra region lose deposits! There are 175 seats in Seemandhra region, and 150 of them did not even think that Congress leaders were worth even getting their deposits back! The washout was expected – but the intensity with which they were washed out in the Seemandhra region simply belied all expectations! However, the shocker for the Congress was not these results in Seemandhra. The abysmal results in Telangana region totally threw them into depression.
The primary purpose of Sonia Gandhi to divide the State of Andhra Pradesh was to atleast win the Telangana region. Many called it her masterstroke – by dividing the State, she will win Telangana with the help of TRS and will ensure TDP loses in both States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. I have written many articles deriding the process and methodology adopted by the Congress; the important nuance of being pro-bifurcation and being against the methods adopted was assumed to be lost in the din. However, the people of both the regions have realised the selfish game played by Sonia Gandhi. They got frustrated with the utterances of Digvijay Singh; the campaign of Jairam Ramesh; and the sound bites of Sushil Kumar Shinde! The result – Congress reduced to a paltry 20 seats in Telangana.
The TDP+BJP combine too notched up 20 seats – a bigger slap in the face of the Congress! Indications from the local body poll pointed out to a strong possibility of an hung Assembly in Telangana. Contrary to all these expectations, the TRS won 63 seats out of the 119 in Telangana. People have identified only this party to be the main reason for the birth of the new State and therefore, have decided to repose faith in TRS to build the new State. Telangana State Assembly will include a lot of new faces as compared to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. Many students and union leaders who were part of the Telangana movement have been given party tickets and a few of them have emerged victorious.
Seemandhra region saw a neck-neck race from a vote share perspective. The TDP+BJP combine has, however, emerged much stronger from a seats perspective. The TDP won 102 and the BJP 4 in the 175 seat Assembly. The YSRCP won 67 seats. Two seats were won by rebel TDP candidates, who in all likelihood will return to the parent party. This means that the AP Assembly will have only 3 parties – the TDP, BJP and YSRCP! The vote to TDP is seen as a vote to experience and hope. Chandrababu Naidu is widely regarded as the architect of the modern AP – and his promise to repeat his performance in the residual State of AP has gathered voter’s attention.
Pawan Kalyan’s campaign has added more strength to the party in this Assembly election.  The turnaround of the TDP is phenomenal. During the last 5 years, there were more than 40 bye-elections to the Assembly (for various reasons). The TDP did not win a single one of them. Back in 2012, I even wrote a blog asking if the TDP is Nai”doom“ed such was the dire situation in the party. This phenomenal turn-around in the fortunes of the party can be attributed to many things but primarily among them is the supreme hard work put in by Naidu in the last 2 years. He did a 2700 km padayatra across the State; even when there was anger against the party in Seemandhra region immediately after Sonia Gandhi’s decision to bifurcate, he did not hesitate to go to the people and explain his stand. He has been consistently amongst people in the last 2 years and has ofcourse promised a lot of freebies. It remains an amazing fact that despite losing elections for 10 years, he has held his cadre together.
The YSRCP is an abomination. It is an off-spring of the Congress, and shares many virtues of the parent party (like Dynasty, arrogance, money power etc). The negative campaign; the jailing of Jagan; the lack of experience in politics; the supreme arrogance of Jagan – all these have contributed a lot to the defeat of the party. Back in 2012, the party won 15 out of 18 seats that went to bypoll. At least 13 of them have lost the elections this time (within 2 years!).
The only solace that the YSRCP can take is that this is a commendable performance for a first time party! June 2 is when both the States will come into existence. Until then, there will be no Government and we will continue to be under President’s Rule. So not much of a political activity is expected until then.

Already three bypoll are in order!

1. KCR won from Medak Parliamentary constituency too. He will now resign to that seat, so a bypoll will be held for that seat.
2. YSRCP’s candidate for Allagadda Assembly constituency, Shobha Nagi Reddy passed away in a car accident before the election. The election was not countermanded because YSRCP was not a recognised party then. She won the seat posthumously by 16,000 votes. A bypoll will be held soon.
3. One EVM in Kalvakurthi Assembly constituency did mal-functioned. Votes could not be counted! The Congress candidate is currently leading by 150 votes – so the Election Commission has ordered a repoll in this polling booth today!

139/10,000 ...

The following article was published in Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference:

I want you, the reader, to very slowly read and grasp the significance of the following statistic.
Election was held to 16,000 MPTC and 1000 ZPTC posts in the undivided State of Andhra Pradesh in April this year. Nearly 10,000 MPTC are from the Seemandhra region. The Congress, which was in power for 10 years in Andhra Pradesh (and also had majority MLA seats in Seemandhra) won 139 MPTC seats. Yes, the Congress won 139 seats out of the 10,000 seats that went to poll. The words – Destruction and Annihilation – seem very insignificant to describe this performance of the Congress!
On Monday, the results for Municipal poll have been declared. The results have been discussed in an earlier article here. Summary is that the TDP won massively in Seemandhra region, and the Congress gained upper hand over TRS and TDP in the Telangana region. Since those results were primarily from urban areas, there was a lot of talk of waiting for results from rural areas too – before coming to a conclusion on how the regions voted. Let’s now discuss the results of the MPTC and ZPTC poll.
Before getting into the results, here’s a brief on what exactly is MPTC and ZPTC. The hierarchy of the Panchayat Raj system is like this. First comes Gram Panchayat. Then comes Mandal Praja Parishad (MPP) and then comes Zilla Parishad (ZP). The current election held was for electing members to the MPP and ZP. In addition to these elected members, local MLAs and MPs are also part of the MPP and ZP. These elections are primarily for rural bodies, and are based on the population.

Results of Seemandhra region:
These election was held on paper ballot, so at the time of writing this article, results for a few seats are yet to be declared. Nevertheless, counting is complete in almost all of the 10,092 seats that went to polling for MPTC. The TDP has won 5050 seats, whilst the YSRCP came second with 3900 seats for MPTC. Out of the 653 seats that went to polls for ZPTC – TDP won 334. The TDP on its own will now be in power in 9/13 Zilla Parishads – this is massive too.
There were lot of apprehensions that YSRCP was dominating the rural areas, and the discourse centered around a wide split in the urban and rural votes. These results put an end to such an argument – the TDP has beaten YSRCP both in the urban and rural areas. Remember, the election was held in first week of April, much before the alliance with BJP and Jana Sena (Pawan Kalyan’s party) was announced. Post the alliance, the votes only will get consolidated further.
Another argument going around is that these results will not have any impact on the Assembly and Lok Sabha poll. The argument is that these election is based on local issues and local candidate selections. However, I beg to differ. In 2004, the Congress won a thumping majority in the State. In the 2005, elections to these local bodies, the Congress continued it’s good showing. Similar situation happened in the year 2000 too (the TDP continued it’s good showing from the 1999 elections). Also, elections to Gram Panchayats were held in July 2013 (just before the bifurcation decision was announced). The TDP stood first in a three cornered race then too. Since then, these results have only gone more in favour of the TDP than YSRCP. Also, these elections are at mandal, municipal and district levels. Though local issues might dominate at mandal level but it is difficult to fathom that those issues were the guiding factors for voting at district level too.
It would take an extraordinary miracle for the voter in the Seemandhra region to change his/her mind within a month (general election was held one month after local body poll). YSRCP’s home channel, Sakshi TV informs us that TDP got 45 per cent of vote share in municipal poll whilst YSRCP got 40 per cent.  Looking back at the campaign, it is difficult to see why there will be a reversal of these numbers in the general election.
Results of Telangana region:
The Congress continues to lead in these elections too, in the Telangana region. Out of the nearly 6500 seats that went to polls, the Congress has won nearly 2300. The TRS won nearly 1800 and the TDP won about 1000. However, very curiously, the TRS has emerged as the single largest party in the ZPTC elections! And therefore this election in Telangana becomes more intriuging!
There is a no clear cut majority to any party – as witnessed in both the urban and rural body election results. The Congress has gained an upper hand in this region. However, since they do not a single face as the leader of the party in the region, there is talk that their assembly performance might not reflect their performance in local bodies. Though it is still a possibility, it does seem unlikely that the TRS will sweep the elections in the region. Only 60 seats are needed to form a Government in Telangana – as of now, it looks like the TRS and Congress will emerge as the two largest parties with none reaching the 60 mark. The probability of a TRS-Congress Government in Telangana has just gone up, after these results are out.
Exit Polls
Quite strangely, no major Telugu newspaper or channel have done an exit poll. Perhaps wisdom dawned upon them that these results are the biggest exit poll one can imagine to get! The results are clear enough. Coming to the Lok Sabha – various channels have given various numbers to the NDA and the YSRCP. There is too much of variation – so much that everyone can claim credit to have given the correct number! I believe that there will be a lot of cross voting for the Lok Sabha election, and the NDA will emerge as the largest combine in the undivided State of Andhra Pradesh. We now wait for May 16.
(PS: I’d again draw your attention to this statistic. In a State which was in power for the last 10 years, the Congress won 139 seats out of the 10,000 seats that went to poll in the Seemandhra region.)

TDP's big comeback in Municipal polls !

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference:

After dilly dallying for nearly 4 years, the AP Government was forced by the Courts to hold elections to the local bodies in the undivided State of Andhra Pradesh. Elections that were due in 2010 were finally held in April 2014 – just about a month before the general elections to the Assembly and Lok Sabha. And therefore these results have acquired great prominence – because they are being seen as a precursor to what will come on May 16.
Today, results for the Municipal Corporations, divisions for municipalities (towns) and ward councillors have been declared. Let’s take a look at the results before discussing further.
In Seemandhra
1. TDP won 1436 ward councillor seats out of the 2571 that were in fray. YSRCP came second with 850 seats. The Congress has been annihilated — it won a mere 53 seats out of the total 2571 seats!
2. TDP won a whopping 62 out of the 92 municipalities (towns). YSRCP came a distant second with 19 seats.
3. TDP won 5 out of the 7 Municipal Corporations. The remaining two went to YSRCP.
In Telangana
1. Congress won 526 ward councillor seats ouf of the 1399 that were in fray. TRS came second with 313 and the TDP finished third with ~160.
2. Congress won 21 out of the 53 municipalities. TRS came second with 11. TDP won 3 and BJP won 2.
3. No outright winner in the three corporations that went to polls in Telangana. All of them have returned a hung verdict.
What does the result mean to Seemandhra politics?
Undoubtedly the urban voter has chosen the TDP. These elections were held before the alliance with BJP was finalised. These were held before Pawan Kalyan openly campaigned for the alliance – so there is widespread enthusiasm amongst the cadre that the Assembly elections will also return a similar verdict. The cadre is particularly enthused that these results were before the alliance and Pawan Kalyan – so they expect a higher seat margin in the Assembly. However, the catch is in tomorrow’s results. Tomorrow, the results for MPTC and ZPTC elections will be out – the rural voters have spoken through the ballot. Only after seeing tomorrow’s results can we arrive at an accurate prediction for Seemandhra region.
However, the surge of TDP was not fully expected. Even in YSRCP stronghold of Kadapa district, the TDP surged ahead by winning 4/7 municipalities. This showing by TDP has definitely surpassed a lot of expectations. The message is crystal clear – we will trust only experience and development; not corruption and arrogance. If tomorrow’s MPTC and ZPTC elections throw up a close result, then we can hope for a TDP+BJP victory in Seemandhra Assembly election too.
The most important outcome to note is the death of Congress. Maybe this is the first time in electoral history that a party has been decimated so badly after being in power for 10 continuous years. A mere 53 seats out of the 2571 in fray is nothing short of devastation. Such is the levels of frustration the people have had with the Congress.
What does the result mean to Telangana politics?
Those keenly following the politics of Telangana might not be fully surprised at the result – Congress performing better than TRS. This is because TRS is bereft of strong cadre at that level. This was also one of the reasons that there were talks of merger/alliance. However, the Assembly election was fought on a single issue – formation of the Telangana State. This means that emotion might have played a larger role, than that at the municipal level. Municipal elections are generally about local specific issues. Therefore, we can still anticipate a majority victory by the TRS and the Congress will be in the second place!
Seemandhra-Telangana Municipal poll results show Congress's end near
The TDP salvaged some pride by winning 3 municipalities and nearly 160 ward councillors. No news agency is putting out the exact number of seats won by the BJP for ward councillors. A whopping 350 candidates have in ‘others’ category in Telangana. The split remains to be seen yet. Either way, the TDP-BJP combination is not finished and with proper hard work, their lost pride can be salvaged still.
A few exit polls continue to predict a close fight between TDP+ and YSRCP. Today’s election results have shown that the urban (and semi-urban) voter voted in a one-sided manner. Let’s wait for the rural pulse tomorrow – and then we can analyse what the exit polls are predicting. These results are the biggest exit poll ever – based on a sample size of over 2 crore!

Voting ends in AP...

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference.

Watching the Telugu news last night and reading the newspapers on May 8 gave an eerie sense of deja vu.  Immediately after the phase 1 and 2 of election in Andhra Pradesh in 2009, newspapers like Eenadu and Andhrajyothy which favour Telegu Dasem Party (TDP) went on to publish saying that given the high percentage of polling, a TDP win is near certain.
Sakshi newspaper that is owned by YSR’s son Jaganmohan obviously reported that it is a landslide for the Congress. The exact same situation has been repeated on May 8. Eenadu is upbeat about TDP’s prospects; Sakshi has already declared Jagan as the winner! We will have to wait till the May 16 to know who was being overconfident! Actually, we don’t have to wait till May 16! On May 12 and and May 13, results of election held for the municipalities and corporations held in April will be announced. These results will be a sound pre-cursor to the results on May 16. If you are wondering how come these elections were held so close to the general election, please do read an earlier article on this topic here.
As it was being predicted, there was a massive voting in the Seemandhra region on May 7. Nearly, all the 13 districts had more than 75 per cent of polling, which is extremely commendable by any standards. The least polling was recorded in Vizag district – 70 per cent. One can imagine the scale of voting if the least recorded percentage is 70 per cent! Guntur district recorded the highest polling – a whopping 82 per cent. Such high polling usually indicates overwhelming preference for a single political party. If only we were in a position to predict the result as accurately as predicting the voter turnout! One must have noticed that there is no concrete prediction available anywhere on which way this election will turn. One must have noticed that many commentators are wary of predicting the result. There is a reason behind this too. In 2004 election, there was just a difference of 1 per cent vote share between the Congress and the TDP alone (this is not taking into account the vote share of allies TRS and the BJP).
The Congress won 185 seats and the TDP won 45 seats – just because of a margin of 1 per cent. This election in Seemandhra too will see a close contest – a difference of 1-2 per cent in vote share. Hence the difficulty in predicting! On the contrary, it is more or less evident that the TRS will emerge as the single largest party in the new State of Telangana. The Congress might end up a close second, and the NDA is expected to end up a poor third. The botching up of the seat sharing talks in this region is one of the factors being attributed to the poor showing. The State BJP president, Kishan Reddy is also on record saying that they were not able to fully cash in on Modi’s rally in August.
Coming back to the Seemandhra region, the high turnout can definitely be attributed to two factors:
1. Massive anger against the Congress party and Sonia-Rahul combine
2. Urge to have a Government that will develop this region on par with how Hyderabad was developed.
The anger against the Congress has to be seen to be believed. The botching up of the bifurcation process (so much so that the prospects of them winning majority in Telangana are also very low!) and the screwing up the electricity situation are the two major factors that have contributed this anger. The party found it extremely difficult to even find candidates to contest – what a fall for a party that ruled the State for the last 10 years. Leave star campaigners, there were no normal campaigners for the party too! Sparsely attended crowds became a hall-mark of their meetings! Sonia Gandhi addressed one meeting – something that people did not even care about. Unless the ruling party massively screws up, it will take a decade for the Congress to recover back from this debacle.
The second factor is the strong urge of the folks to rise up to the challenge of building a new State for themselves. As has been argued earlier, technically, a new State of Andhra Pradesh is being created and not a new State of Telangana – for the existing capital city is in Telangana. People in the Seemandhra region are quite vociferous about this challenge. The TDP-led the campaign on the promise of past work in developing Hyderabad – if we did it once, we can do it again. Modi’s campaign in the region also stressed on specifics of developing each district – something that was missing in the YSRCP camp. The campaign of YSRCP centered around YSR and his schemes; of promises of jobs and loans; and other such doles.

Another defining factor of May 7 election is the violence resorted by YSRCP supporters. News channels were agog with clashes, primarily perpetuated by the YSRCP goons. Some rival camp candidates were even locked inside rooms; vehicles were damaged; clashes happened with police; some reports of booth capturing too! On May 7, we mentioned about the money power that YSRCP unleashed in this election; we also became witness to the goondaism they are capable of unleashing! The EC has announced that the overall polling was peaceful barring these few instances of violence. The advent of YSR’s regime in 2004 saw a violent end to many of the rival camp leaders. If YSRCP wins 2014, will we see another such phase? Over to May 16 now. Will we see a new dawn in Seemandhra region where the choice is the experience and the hope held out by the Naidu-Modi duo or will we see a dawn where the choice is governed by pure sympathy towards YSRCP?

New corruption standards set in AP!

The following article was written for Niti Central. Pasting it here for reference:

#CongressMuktBharat is a slogan that has reverberated across the country. This goal is all set to be achieved in the new Andhra Pradesh today. Congress will be literally wiped out of Andhra Pradesh, the same State that sent a whopping 33/42 MPs in 2009, enabling the Sonia-Rahul combo to loot the country.
However, there is danger lurking around the corner in the form of YSRCP. The TDP President calls this the “Pilla Congress”, meaning “Bacha Congress”. YSRCP is an offspring of the Congress, born out of Jagan Mohan Reddy’s desire to become the Chief Minister. YSRCP is not very different from the Congress — it is equally corrupt and dynastic. Therefore, while the dream of a #CongressMuktBharat will be realised in AP to the fullest, the possibility of YSRCP coming to power is a distrubing one.
Following are some approximate figures (final figures will be out probably in a couple of days), as announced by the Election Commission. A total of Rs 269 crore has been recovered by the Election Commission in the entire country, during various raids conducted after announcing the election schedule in March. Out of this, a whopping Rs 129 crore (out of which Rs 108 crore is in cash) has been recovered in Andhra Pradesh alone!
Local news channels are full of news about the shocking amounts money and material flow. Large-scale raids have so far resulted in confiscation of the following items:
1. Cash
2. Cricket Kits
3. Sarees
4. Cheap Liquor
5. Lunch/Dinner parties
6. Biryani packets
7. Silver ornaments
8. Some reports indicated that parties were even filling up fuel tanks of bikes/scooters etc!
Tragically, five people died after consuming illicit liquor. This liquor was obtained from the house of an YSRCP candidate’s office. Most of the items mentioned above have been recovered from offices/godowns belonging to the YSRCP candidates or their associates. The scale on which YSRCP is carrying out these activities is simply mind-boggling. We see scores of reports daily on raids on lunch parties, on godowns, even in an engineering college, where material is recovered. Political parties have brazened it out in this make-or-break election. Their behavior will put any mature democracy to shame. Churches are freely advocating voting to the YSRCP.
A car engine catches fire. The car belongs to a company owned by N Uttam Kumar Reddy. The car also has an ‘MLA’ sticker” on it. It turned out that nearly Rs 2 crore in cash was placed in the bonnet of the car, and the paper currency caught fire because of the heat from the engine. Uttam Kumar Reddy is the working president of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee. The DGP announced yesterday that this car belonged to the brother of Uttam Kumar Reddy!
This election in Andhra Pradesh must rank as one of the most most closely fought elections. Hence this free flow of money and material. Despite EC’s attempts, it is just plain shocking as to how much of this free flow is happening on the ground. The story of this election has to be the money/material flow in Andhra Pradesh. The headlines must be the subversion of democracy in Andhra Pradesh. Unfortunately, Priyanka’s innocous remark grabs more space than this blatant transgression of democracy!
All this is fine. Who will win the election?
This election will be literally won at the booth level. A survey by NTV predicted a sweep by YSRCP at the Assembly level. A survey by NDTV has shown gains and a majority for TDP-BJP at Parliament level. The entry of film star Pawan Kalyan has definitely changed some equations, but this election is so close, that it is near impossible to tell which way the seats will go. A gap of a mere 1-2 per cent can result in a sweep of either party. For all that we know, both the NTV and the NDTV survey also might turn out to be true – YSRCP winning assembly and NDA winning LS seats. If there is no cross voting, then TDP coming to power is a possibility too.
Massive crowds have thronged both YSRCP’s and NDA’s meetings in the region. Both parties have gone all out to woo voters – Chandrababu Naidu has promised a slew of freebies in his attempt to attract voters. He went ahead and also announced that he will make two people as deputy CM’s – one from the BC community and another from the Kapu community. The caste polarisation in AP is one of the most under-reported stories of every election. The focus on UP and Bihar in our discourse when it comes to caste polarisation has ensured that AP gets off the hook – the situation is as bad as it is in those states! This is quite evident from Naidu’s proclamations too.
In an interesting development yesterday, the MP candidate of Kiran Kumar Reddy’s party from Vizag, has announced his withdrawal from the fray. He has openly declared support to the NDA. Reports are pouring in that this is the same case at many places across the states. Whatever little number of votes this party would have gathered will now get transferred to NDA combine.
The region has a history of high voting percentage too — some districts had nearly 85 per cent voting too last time. Traffic in Hyderabad is much less than normal today, because it is estimated that lakhs of people have gone back to vote in these elections. It will boil down to the booth. The party that manages the booth better will emerge victorious. Bottom Line – the result can literally go either way!