- "Vote for change, vote without fear," Jagan Mohan Reddy said
- He has declared assets worth Rs. 510.38 crore
- He is contesting the state polls from Pulivendula assembly seat
YSR Congress Party chief Jagan Mohan Reddy, who turned up early at a voting booth in Andhra Pradesh's Pulivendula, had a message for first-time voters. "Vote for change, vote without fear," Mr Reddy told NDTV, smiling, his supporters cheering from behind. "I am very confident. I am pretty sure people are looking for a change and I hope it would happen. I think the turnout will be past 80 per cent," he added.
Moments later, the YSR Congress Party chief was seen playfully holding and hugging a baby as he walked towards a polling booth, surrounded by supporters.
"There is an issue of credibility. During the elections in 2014, whatever promises they made... everything is proven to be a lie. People are looking for credibility; it will lead to change," Mr Reddy told NDTV.
On accusations by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu's Telegu Desam Party that he had a hand in the tax raids on people linked to the rival party, Mr Reddy told NDTV, "Wherever there is black money or scent of black money, anybody wanting to deliver a free and fair poll will definitely raid. Since there is no money with us, they are not raiding us. Since there is a lot of money with them, they are raiding them."
Mr Reddy has declared assets worth Rs 510.38 crore and is among the richest in the state, according to election watch non-profit Association of Democratic Reforms. "That's all accounted for and tax-paid. That's a different story altogether. But this (raids) is black money they are talking about," he said.
The 46-year-old politician had earlier told NDTV that he prefers a hung parliament instead of the BJP or the Congress getting a clear majority at the centre. However, he said he is open to partnering with any leader or coalition at the centre as long as they give special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
Mr Reddy is in fact hoping that along with K Chandrashekar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen or AIMIM, they will together bargain for special category status for Andhra Pradesh.
Chandrababu Naidu had pulled out his party from the NDA government last year, upset over the centre not giving special category status to the southern state.
Mr Naidu has told NDTV his battle is against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as regional rivals Mr Reddy and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.
Asked if his rivalry with them was separate, Mr Naidu said, "All are one, no doubt about it. Modi is protecting Jagan, KCR is supporting Jagan. People are aware. Ask my people". Telangana, he also said, was working against the interests of Andhra Pradesh.
Voting for assembly and national elections is underway in Andhra Pradesh, along with Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Odisha.