Caste, popularity, opposition survey reports shape YS Jagan's strategy for picking, dropping candidates

Atleast 13 sitting MLAs have been denied tickets out of 35 candidates announced in the two lists so far.

Caste, popularity, opposition survey reports shape YS Jagans strategy for picking, dropping candidates

AMARAVATI: YSRCP president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy is literally nitpicking each and every candidate for the upcoming Assembly and Parliament elections in the State. In 2019, the YSRCP romped home to power for the first time in the State winning an astounding 151 seats in the 175-member Assembly. This time, for the 2024 elections, Jagan has been aiming to sweep all the seats with a 'Why not 175' campaign.

In the run up to the elections, the YSRCP president has so far announced two lists of 24 candidates for the Assembly elections. Atleast 10 sitting MLAs have been denied tickets out of 35 candidates announced in the two lists.

"The changes have been made after a thorough assessment of the winning prospects of the candidates. The exercise will continue till the party announces candidates for all the 175 seats. The ultimate objective of the entire process is to ensure victory of the party for a second successive term,” senior YSRCP leader Botcha Satyanarayana said.

The sitting MLAs who have been denied the party tickets are: Alla Ramakrishna Reddy from Mangalagiri, TJR Sudhakar Babu from Santhanuthalapadu (SC) and Tippala Nagi Reddy from Gajuwaka (from the first list), Industries Minister Gudivada Amarnath from Anakapalle, Golla Babu Rao (Payakaraopet-SC), Kondeti Chittibabu (P Gannavaram), Pendem Dorababu (Pithapuram), Jyothula Chanti Babu (Jaggampeta), Parvatha Purnachandra Prasad (Prathipadu), P V Sidda Reddy (Kadiri), K Chenna Kesava Reddy (Yemmiganur), Chetti Palguna (Araku-ST) and Malladi Vishnu (Vijayawada Central).

Besides, Jagan also denied the ticket to his party MP from Hindupur Parliamentary constituency Gorantla Madhav, apart from reshuffling the constituencies of quite a few MLAs and MPs and accommodating kin of a few other MLAs.

For example, Municipal Administration Minister Adimulapu Suresh, who represents Yerragondapalem (SC) constituency, has been shifted to Kondepi. Similarly Kambala Jogulu, who represents Rajam-SC constituency, has been shifted to Payakaraopet-SC.

Kakinada MP Vanga Geetha has been moved to Pithapuram Assembly constituency. Similarly, K V Usha Sricharan has been moved from Kalyanadurg to Penukonda and Shankara Narayana who represents Penukonda, has been named as MP candidate from Anantapur. Araku MP Goddeti Madhavi has been moved to Araku-ST Assembly seat.

Paderu MLA Kottagulli Bhagya Lakshmi has been named as the MP candidate from Araku. Similarly, Vijayawada (West) MLA Vellampalli Srinivas Rao has been moved to Vijayawada (Central). Sitting Anantapur MP Talari Rangaiah has been named as party candidate for Kalyanadurg Assembly constituency.

Jagan has also replaced some of the MLAs with their kin. They include: Pilli Surya Prakash Rao, son of Rajya Sabha MP Pilli Subhash Chandra Bose from Ramachandrapuram, Tellam Rajya Lakshmi, wife of sitting MLA Tellam Balaraju from Polavaram (ST), Bhumana Abhinay Reddy, son of sitting MLA Bhumana Karunakar Reddy from Tirupati, Perni Krisha Murthy alias Kittu, son of sitting MLA Perni Venkatramaiah alias Perni Nani from Machilipatnam and Chevireddy Mohit Reddy, son of sitting MLA Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy form Chandragiri, Shaik Noori Fatima, daughter of sitting MLA Mohammad Mustafa (Guntur East).

In the second list, Jagan announced new candidates for three Lok Sabha constituencies which incouded Malagundla Sankaranarayana from Anantapur, Joladarashi Shanta from Hindupur and Kottagulli Bhagya Lakshmi from Araku (ST).

Sankaranayana has so far been YSRCP MLA from Penukonda Assembly constituency, while Joladarashi Shanta was a BJO MP from Bellary parliamentary constituency in 2009 and Kottagulli Bhagya Lakshmi is presently YSRC MLA from Paderu.

In the first list, Rajahmundry MP Margani Bharat was named as the party MLA from Rajahmundry City Assembly constituency. No candidate has been named yet for Rajahmundry Lok Sabha seat.

The dropping of MLAs, shifting of MLAs from their original constituencies to other places and denial of tickets to several other aspirants, has caused ripples in the party.

While Mangalagiri MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy resigned from the party on December 30, 2023 a few other MLAs who were denied the tickets are looking for other options for their political survival.

Vijayawada (Central) MLA Malladi Vishnu, who was also denied the ticket, held a meeting with his followers. He is likely to join the Congress, if Jagan’s sister Y S Sharmila takes over the reins of the party.

Another senior YSRCP leader and former MLA from Kadapa district Gadikota Dwarakanath Reddy joined the TDP along with his family members in the presence of party president N Chandrababu Naidu. Reddy was expecting the YSRCP ticket from Rayachoty, but was denied the same.

YSRCP leader and legislative council member C Ramachandraiah, also from Kadapa, resigned from the party and joined the TDP.

“The selection of candidates was made keeping in view the overall interest of the party. If some leaders want to quit the party, they can do so. It hardly matters to the party,” YSRCP in-charge of north Andhra districts Y V Subba Reddy said.

Rayadurgam MLA Kapu Ramachandra Reddy too announced his resignation from the YSR Congress Party, citing that Jagan had betrayed him by denying the party ticket.

Ramchandra Reddy said that though he had tried several times to meet Jagan, he was denied an opportunity. Terming Jagan as “cut-throat”, the MLA said that he would be contesting from Rayadurgam as an independent, and field his spouse from the Kalyanadurgam Assembly Constituency in the next elections.

Ramachandra Reddy, who is a non-Reddy, belongs to the dominant Boya community in the region bordering Karnataka.

There is a possibility of sitting MP from Ongole Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy being denied the ticket. Ongole MLA and former minister Balineni Srinivasa Reddy is being asked to move to Giddalur, which he is refusing to and is asserting that he will contest only as Ongole MLA.

Jagan has ruffled the feathers of a few from his flock in Nellore district which is a forte of the YSR Congress. Mekapati Chandrasekhara Reddy, MLA from Udayagiri Assembly seat, was denied ticket and he moved to the TDP. However, it is not clear whether he would be nominated as a contestant by the TDP also. Nellore Rural MLA Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy had exited bitterly criticising Jagan and joined the TDP and announced that he would contest from Nellore rural on behalf of the TDP.

Venkatagiri MLA and former Minister Anam Ramanarayana Reddy who has been spitting fire against Jagan also left the YSR Congress. He also is likely to get nominated on behalf of the TDP from Venkatagiri while Jagan has made Nedurumalli Ramkumar Reddy, son of former Chief Minister the late Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy.

There is a possibility of shifting Nellore urban MLA Dr P Anil Kumar as the MP candidate from Eluru Lok Sabha seat. He is a Yadava leader and had studied in Eluru. Though he is challenging his opponent Dr Ponguru Narayana to face him in Nellore urban, how the YSRCP high command would decide this seat has to be seen.

Cricketer Ambati Rayudu, who was admitted to the party about 15 days ago, resigned from the YSRCP Congress and decided to get back to cricket. The reason being cited was that he had aspired for Guntur Lok Sabha seat while Jagan wanted him to contest from Machilipatnam Lok Sabha seat. Annoyed by this, he opted out of the scenario. Sitting MP from Machilipatnam Vallabhaneni Balashouri was almost told that he was not being renominated. Whether he would be fielded in any Assembly seat was also not clear.

Speculation is rife that senior leader and champion of Kapu reservation agitation Mudragada Padmanabham’s son would be fielded from Kakinada Assembly seat.

Sitting MLA and former minister Kanna Babu is being tipped for contesting from Kakinada Lok Sabha. However, a final decision has yet to be taken with regard to the seat.

Selecting candidates in strongholds of the TDP in the North Coastal Andhra is likely to be trickier than expected.

Overall, Jagan’s jugglery of jigging the candidates is causing ripples within the party.

So why have the candidates been changed?

Why is this generating heat? What is the thought process behind these changes? There are basically four major factors influencing YS Jagan's decisions.

1) Caste and winnability factor

It is no secret that caste factor plays an important role in Andhra politics. This combined with the additional ability of the candidate to find his election expenses seems to have a major influence on Jagan choosing his candidates.

There is also a question of which community the opposition candidate hails from. For example YSRCP MLA Nagireddy Tippala, a BC candidate, won from Gajuwaka in 2019. However with the TDP fielding Palla Srinivas Rao, a Yadava leader, Jagan has chosen to field Vurukuti Rama Chandra Rao (Chandu) who also hails from the same community and is seen as a popular choice.

2) Negativity against current MLA

This is the most obvious explanation for changing the candidate. With surveys pointing towards the popularity of current MLAs dwindling in their constituencies, the Chief Minister has decided to either drop them from the contenders list or field them from a different constitution. A case in point is the current BC Welfare and I&PR Minister Chelluboyina Srinivasa Venugopala Krishna who has been fielded from Rajahmundry Rural owing to internal bickering in the party.

3) Countering TDP+JSP

Other factors taken into consideration for fielding a candidate is the ability to take on the might of Jana Sena and TDP combine. Most of the incharges appointed by the YSRCP leadership is to effectively counter the combine.

4) Opposition-backed media surveys

The YSRCP has been keenly following media reports and surveys of opposition TDP backed media outlets, which it terms as 'Yellow Media' in reference to the TDP party's colour. However, without grudging on negative propaganda, the YSRCP took into account the yellow media surveys and matched their reports with its intelligence and IPAC surveys and then took a call on fielding a candidate.

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