Hyderabad, May 17: He nearly made it.
YSR Congress leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy blamed the Narendra Modi “wave laced with false and impossible poll promises” of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu for his party’s “setback”, a day after his three-year-old outfit fell just short of its main rival.
Jagan’s YSRC has 10 MPs, including one from Khammam in Telangana, 70 MLAs in Seemandhra and a 44.47 per cent share of the popular vote, just behind the 46.53 per cent of the Desam-BJP combine in the elections in Andhra Pradesh, which voted for the last time as an undivided state.
A new state, Telangana, is set to formally come into existence early next month and voters in Seemandhra and Telangana — Andhra’s two regions — had also voted to elect the members of the two Assemblies.
The result means Jagan and his party missed out on the hot seat in Seemandhra, which has 175 Assembly and 25 parliamentary seats, by just 2.06 per cent votes.
Jagan, who was in jail on corruption charges but had plunged into the campaign within days of his release on bail in September, recorded the highest victory margin in Seemandhra (75,743 votes) from Pulivendula Assembly segment, bettering even Naidu’s victory margin of 47,121 from Kuppam.
The Congress, which claimed to be the “creator” of Telangana and also the “saviour” of Seemandhra, has 20 MLAs in the 119-member Telangana Assembly and won just two of the region’s 17 Lok Sabha seats. It has been wiped out in Seemandhra with a vote share of just 2.86 per cent.
The office of the YSR Congress was crowded with people who had come to congratulate Jagan on his victory. But the celebrations were subdued because of the defeat of Y.S. Vijayamma, Jagan’s mother, from Visakhapatnam where the BJP candidate won.
“We are not in a hurry. The YSR Congress started its political journey with one MP and one MLA after which it enhanced its strength to 20 MLAs and two MPs in by-elections and finally today we are 70 MLAs and 10 MPs. There is no change in our stand on either Samaikyandhra (undivided Andhra) or towards (the) TDP,” he said in a statement, adding the YSRC would play the role of a committed Opposition.
Asked whether he was worried that Naidu might saddle him with cases, Jagan said: “No sweat. Sonia Gandhi did her best to defame (his late chief minister father) YSR and myself.”
Jagan had mentioned all the 10 CBI cases against him in the election affidavit. “I am not worried in the least as I have faith in God, my destiny and the law of the land. We will be back in the next five years and till then will play a constructive role in both Telangana and Seemandhra with the support of the common man,” he said.
The YSRC boss would sit as the leader of Opposition in the Assembly in residual Andhra, that is the remaining part of the state after Telangana is formed, and face the man who had said Jagan would go to jail again after the elections.
Asked what issues he planned to focus on in the Assembly, Jagan said: “The slate is clean and we have to rewrite the history of Seemandhra once again and we have to see how and whether the Naidu-Modi combination will work for people.”
What would be the role of his mother and sister Sharmila? Jagan said both had done their bit when he was in jail. “Hats off to all the women, particularly (sister) Sharmila, (mother) Vijayamma and (wife) Bharati,” he said.
What plans does he have in mind for Telangana? “YSRC is a political party, we will rebuild the party in Telangana. Yes, we stood for Seemandhra and against bifurcation. We have been honest about it. Those who were dishonest have been punished in the elections,” he said.
Although the YSRC fielded candidates in Telangana, it had not campaigned in the region, except in Khammam, where it won the Lok Sabha seat.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti legislators today elected president K. Chandrasekhar Rao as leader of the party in the Assembly and chief minister of the country’s 29th state.
Briefing reporters on the TRS legislature party meeting at Telangana Bhavan, party secretary general K. Keshav Rao said Chandrasekhar Rao would meet governor E.S.L. Narasimhan tomorrow.
The TRS has won 63 Assembly and 11 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana.