YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy must have allowed himself a broad smile in Chanchalguda jail as his party swept to victory in the Nellore Lok Sabha and 15 of the 18 assembly seats in the widely-watched bypolls. The Congress was spared the blushes, securing victories in Ramachandrapuram and Narsapuram. But the real bad news was reserved for N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, which drew a blank. Significantly, the TRS, which is fighting for a separate Telangana state, nearly lost Parkal in a photo-finish to Jagan’s party.
But YSR Congress seems to have proved that its claim to the legacy of former chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and promise of a ‘suvarna rajam’ (golden rule) worked on the voters, especially women. The party’s supporters seem to have largely ignored the corruption charges against Jagan, the main target of both the Congress and TDP campaigns. Also, Jagan was helped by the polarization of Reddy votes across regions.
The Congress poll drive had little effect as YSR Congress was able to build on the “insults” heaped on Jagan and his family by his rivals. Following his arrest on May 27, his mother Vijayamma and sister Sharmila toured all the constituencies and kept the sympathy factor alive.
Such was Jagan’s dominance that his candidate M Rajamohan Reddy won the Nellore LS seat by 2,91,745 votes, a clear message that dumping him could prove dear for the Congress in the 2014 LS polls.