Analysis: 13 Reasons Why Jagan Reddy Lost In Andhra Pradesh

The YSRCP had won 151 assembly and 23 Lok Sabha seats with nearly 50 per cent vote share in 2019. Going down to 40 per cent vote share in 2024 has left the party with just 10 assembly and four Lok Sabha seats.

Analysis: 13 Reasons Why Jagan Reddy Lost In Andhra Pradesh

Outgoing Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy says he does not know why his party lost


Outgoing Andhra Pradesh chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy says he does not know the reason why despite bringing welfare to maximum households, the elderly, women, farmers, auto drivers and others, he and his party, the YSR Congress had faced such a humiliating defeat in Andhra Pradesh.

The YSRCP had won 151 assembly and 23 Lok Sabha seats with nearly 50 per cent vote share in 2019. Going down to 40 per cent vote share in 2024 has left the party with just 10 assembly and four Lok Sabha seats.

Here are 13 possible reasons why Jagan Mohan Reddy and his party performed badly:

1.   Arrest of Chandrababu Naidu in September, 2023, shocked his admirers and supporters specially among the educated class who considered Mr Naidu as an icon of progressive Telugu political leadership. The police action was suspected to be vendetta politics.

The arrest of Chandrababu Naidu may not have directly translated into a sympathy wave but Mr Naidu was a tall leader who had many admirers. For a senior, much-respected politician to be put behind bars, reeked of a vengeful government out to settle scores.

2.   The turning point in changing the fortunes of Chandrababu Naidu and Telugu Desam came with Pawan Kalyan playing the hero for a party in distress and announcing that he and the Jana Sena would fight the election along with Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP. Post the arrest, the CBN camp had appeared in low spirits and were not looking quite capable of spinning a political comeback. But the star's entry and standing with Mr Lokesh outside Rajahmundry Central Prison served as a powerful image that boosted the confidence of the cadres, and even the people, that Naidu could be back.

3.   Lessons from Telangana and KCR did not help Jagan Mohan Reddy and the YSRCP: If the BRS had lost the 2023 assembly election because KCR did not change candidates, YS Jaganmohan Reddy changed some 102 candidates but that did not pay off.

4.   The poll arithmetic of the NDA alliance worked perfectly, with the vote share apparently happening smoothly between the alliance partners. Mr Naidu and Mr Kalyan ensured they met regularly, courteously and put up a chemistry in their appearances together that gave the right signals to the party cadre. No dirty linen was ever washed in public.

5. The volunteer system to reach governance and administration to the doorstep of the most deprived sections worked well. But the official machinery got neglected. That created resentment and the political parties were not able to build their popularity on a patronage basis.

Much more important is the fear factor that critics talk about. Fear of being identified as a TDP supporter and getting targeted.

6.   The narrative that the Jagan Mohan Reddy government did not focus on anything beyond welfare measures had a resonance with the people of Andhra Pradesh. There was talk of the elderly and the women, who have been beneficiaries, being pressured by the youth who asked, "okay, you are getting money in your pocket, but what about our future, our jobs?", convincing a change in party loyalty.

7.    Mr Naidu, Mr Kalyan and Mr Lokesh repeatedly called Mr Reddy a psycho. They asked the question: who killed babai?, referring to the murder of Mr Reddy's uncle YS Vivekananda Reddy, creating doubt and suspicion in the minds of the people.

YS Sharmila has not won Kadapa. Yet her campaign, targetting her brother, as someone who is supporting the murder accused of their uncle, did not help Mr Reddy's image among the people. Afterall, Ms Sharmila had campaigned for Mr Reddy, even undertook a padyatra for him. Yet, the fact that she was not just estranged but had gone against him publicly, led to gossip about palace intrigue and of greed, avarice, little value for relationships.

8.   Just like in Telangana, there was also talk of Mr Reddy getting surrounded by a coterie that did not allow genuine feedback to reach him. Even though he came across as a people's man in his political yatras, Mr Reddy is not known to be gregarious and liked his personal space and time with his family and that did lead to resentment about no access. Like KCR, he too got labelled authoritarian and inaccessible.
9.    The sheer power of numbers: As against YS Jagan Mohan Reddy who came across as a singular face, a lone soldier and campaigner for his party, the NDA had many, many faces. From a Chandrababu Naidu to a Pawan Kalyan, both of who campaigned extensively and as though there was no tomorrow.

Plus the momentum of a Prime Minister, Home Minister and other BJP leaders adding voice and volume to the NDA campaign, gave it a momentum that YSRCP was not able to match. 

10. Already Nara Lokesh had undertaken a 3132 km over 226 days, called Yuvagalam, that helped the younger TDP leader connect directly with the people, like Mr Reddy had done earlier. Mr Lokesh walked from Kuppam in southern Andhra Pradesh to Visakhapatnam, taking a break only when his father went to jail. He listened to people's grievances, promising to address them when the TDP came to power.

11. Chandrababu Naidu took no chances and presented a manifesto that included Mr Reddy's welfare promises and more. The man once known for economic reforms now was proposing a manifesto that was clearly financially unviable for a state without resources.

 12. The campaign around the Land Titling Act was probably the last nail on the coffin. It created doubts and apprehension around not just selling and buying land but also about losing your land, not being able to either inherit land or pass it on to your children. The YSRCP was not able to do enough damage control in time and that possibly nailed it.

13. Finally, no ruling party can afford to underestimate the power of its employees. The attack on doctors, unhappiness of teachers, action on anganwadi workers and resentment among the 8 lakh government employees about denial or delay in pay out of benefits, had for some time now metamorphed into whispers in the corridors of power that this government must be voted out. That probably sealed the YSRCP fate.