On a day the party her husband heads won 15 out of 18 assembly seats and the Nellore Lok Sabha, Jagan Mohan Reddy's wife, Bharathi Reddy, says they just took things as they came. "People must be thinking we worked on some master strategy to come to this day but there is absolutely nothing like that. We just took it as it came and reacted to whatever was happening without often realising what the possible outcome may be," she said. Today's win has taken the YSR Congress' tally in the Andhra Pradesh assembly to 16 and in Parliament to two.
Jagan Mohan Reddy's sister Sharmila said she was confident her brother would soon be chief minister, the latest by 2014. The party is hoping to make the numbers that will win Jagan a chair that was denied to him after his father's death. Jagan himself feels more than 20 seats in the Lok Sabha is what he would be looking at to become a voice that matters nationally.
The results of the Andhra Pradesh bypoll surprised no one. The YSR Congress party got a tally of 15 seats. Losing seats held by former ministers Konda Surekha in Parkal and Pilli Subash Chandra Bose in Ramachandrapuram, as well as the Narsapuram seat, were some reason for disappointment though.
But the defeat in Parkal has also given reason for hope. At a time when it was argued that the Telangana sentiment would help the candidate of a pro-separate state party like the TRS romp home comfortably, that Konda Surekha managed to give a tough fight and was defeated by only about 1500-odd votes has given some reason for hope.
The TRS blames this on the "popularity" of the YSR Congress candidate Konda Surekha and the influence of her husband while refusing to concede that this could mean the Telangana sentiment may have waned.
YSR Congress party points out that what this means is that the Jagan sway is strong in Telangana as well. "This when he has not even campaigned or conducted an odarpu yatra in the region,'' they say.
Jagan's mother Vijayalakshmi says she is confident the party will make a definite headway in Telangana. "It is only because the others got together to defeat us that we lost," she says.
The BJP had hoped that they would be able to do a repeat of Mahbubnagar in the by-elections held earlier this year by saying a national party gives more hope for a separate state than a TRS. But all that they managed to do was to reduce the victory margin by splitting the pro-Telangana vote.
The TDP that finished fourth can take consolation that despite being labelled a party whose leader has taken an ambivalent stand on Telangana, they finished fourth. The Congress credibility in the region is apparently at its lowest and that is why they finished a poor fifth in the race.
Congress MP L Rajagopal, who has always opposed a separate Telangana, says the Parkal result shows that there are a substantial number of people within the region who do not support the formation of a separate state. "Their voices were silenced by groups like the TRS," he says. "The reason for voting for YSR Congress is simply a rejection of the TRS," he argues.
The YSR Congress would take hope that what this means is that the Telangana region, that the TRS had claimed to be its bastion, can be infiltrated and inroads made. Analysts say the Reddys in Telangana could veer around Jagan Mohan Reddy, rejecting the Velama leadership of the TRS. A better score in Telangana along with a good show in the Rayalaseema and Coastal belt may comfortably take Jagan to a position where he would not need a nod of approval from elsewhere to take over what he believes is a chair that should come to him as his father's son.
Infighting within the Congress, anti-incumbency, division in the ranks over several issues including Telangana have spoilt the ruling party's chances while the failure of the Telugu Desam to offer the hope of a better alternative, have given Jagan the political space to create a new party.
For Jagan, consolidating this victory will be possible only if he is able to come out of jail and ensure the legal cases against him don't ensnare him.