Forget the glory of Assam and the
shame of Tamil Nadu. Ignore West Bengal; it belongs to Mamata.
Kerala was plain lucky. Forget also Puducherry, where it was voted
out. The worst news for the Congress, India's ruling party, has
come from Kadapa, the Lok Sabha constituency in one of the most
volatile parts of Andhra Pradesh.
Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's record-shattering win - and the
humiliating Congress rout -- marks the beginning of the end of
India's oldest party in what was its most secure southern bastion.
That Jagan, as he is known, will win, on the strength of the
legacy of his late father and former chief minister Y.S.
Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), was never in doubt. Despite deploying 20
Andhra ministers in the campaign, even Congress had read the
writing on the wall. The real battle it waged in Kadapa was
notionally against Jagan but essentially to ensure that the Telugu
Desam Party (TDP) did not bag the second spot.
The Congress wanted to prove that even if Jagan won what is after
all a family seat, by coming second it would still be regarded as
a force to reckon with. The Congress did come second but a poor
second. Its candidate D.L. Ravindra Reddy, a state minister, lost
his deposit - like the TDP and 39 other candidates. (During
campaigning, the Congress man was, because of his initials, dubbed
by his critics as 'Deposit Loss' Ravindra Reddy.)
When Jagan won from Kadapa in 2009, with the blessings of both the
Congress and his chief minister father, his victory margin was
1.63 lakh. Minus his father and despite a hostile Congress, this
has risen to a dizzying 5.45 lakh!
Railing against Congress president Sonia Gandhi day after day, at
meeting after meeting, for the "injustice" supposedly meted out to
him and Kadapa, YSR's son (who the Congress leadership prevented
from becoming the chief minister after his father died) secured
almost 7 lakh votes - an envious 65 percent of the total votes
The Congress has been stunned. Already, tongues are wagging that
the Congress needs to replace Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy,
who has been aggressively anti-Jagan. Everyone in the Andhra
Congress realizes that it won't be long before some, if not most,
of its legislators start realizing that their political future
lies with Jagan, and not an YSR-orphaned party.
If and when that happens, the increasingly visible cracks in the
Congress will only widen. And it will have to irreversibly lose a
state which fetched it an invaluable 33 Lok Sabha seats (of the
total 42) in 2009, and thus helped Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
to take power again.
Both the Congress and TDP tried to undercut Jagan's victory margin
by talking about his links with a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
minister in Karnataka, assuming this would strip him of Kadapa's
mammoth Muslim voter population. But Muslims voted for him in the
sprawling constituency, a development that has shocked Congress
Jagan's YSR Congress Party will now start spreading its wings,
roping in both traditional Congress supporters and those unhappy
with TDP and its weakened leader N. Chandrababu Naidu. Jagan will
now decide whether to go slow or hasten the eventual collapse of
the Congress. He has been careful this far not to take up the
divisive Telangana issue.
Already, the Congress has stopped winning in Karnataka. It has
virtually no influence in Tamil Nadu. Even Kerala is now proving
tough. It has been written off in Bihar. It is no more a dominant
force in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Orissa. It remains weak in
Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. It has to share
Maharashtra with the NCP. And if Andhra too slips away, how will
Congress return to power nationally?
Swamy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)