It was 8 am on Sunday, May 23, 2019. I just finished our morning coffee and sat in front of the television screens in the room in a three-star hotel (I couldn’t get accommodation in any five-star hotels, which were all packed with leaders from all parts of the state) in the heart of Vijayawada.
Counting of votes just begun to decide the fate of 2,118 candidates in fray from 175 assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh, elections for which were held in a single phase, along with elections for 25 Lok Sabha seats, on April 11.
The television news channels started flashing the results of the counting of postal ballots. From the word “go,” the outcome of the elections was evident. It was YSR Congress party all the way, trouncing the Telugu Desam Party that ruled the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh for the previous five years, by all means.
I knew the graph would only go only up and it did exactly, quite steeply. With every five minutes, the tally of YSR Congress party was only going up like a speedometer of a vehicle, in every nook and corner of the state – starting from Srikakulam in north coastal Andhra to Kurnool in Rayalaseema.
It was blue, white and green colours flashing in every channel and there was no sight of yellow anywhere. And a new history was scripted in Andhra Pradesh.
Forty six-years old Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, president of YSR Congress party, emerged as new beacon of light of millions of people who reposed tremendous confidence in his leadership.
His party recorded a landslide victory by winning 151 MLAs in 175-member assembly, which was an unprecedented and unparalleled achievement. And it was an all-time record for any political party in the entire country, which cannot be broken anytime in future.
And for the Telugu Desam Party headed by so-called shrewed and seasoned politician N Chandrababu Naidu, it is a humiliating defeat. His party ended up with his 23 assembly seats – the exact number of YSRC MLAs which he had lured into the TDP during his regime.
The joker in the pack was Jana Sena Party headed by actor Pawan Kalyan, which started off with anti-establishment campaign but ended up being a secret partner of the TDP by the time elections were held. T
he Jana Sena won just one seat – Razole (of course, this lone MLA has more less been associated with the YSRC now). Pawan Kalyan himself is set to lose in both the assembly constituencies – Gajuwaka and Bhimavaram with huge margins. And about the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, there is nothing much to say.
Though victory of Jagan was a foregone conclusion immediately after the polling, as almost all exit polls have predicted that YSRC would come to power in Andhra Pradesh. But the TDP leadership and Naidu tried to put up a brave front, hoping against hope that the last-minute doling of sops would do some miracle.
But the results had gone beyond expectations of everybody – may be even Jagan would not have expected such a huge mandate from the people. In fact, the YSRC ranks were hoping that the party would end up with 110-120 seats, but the final tally was a pleasant surprise as well as shock for them.
It was true Jagan successfully cashed in on the anti-incumbency atmosphere prevailing in the state against Naidu government. At the same time, the people had no other alternative except Jagan. The strong sentiment among the people for a special category status to Andhra Pradesh has also helped victory.
Above all, Jagan’s marathon padayatra spanning over 3,600 km and 14 months also catapulted him to the massive victory.
In the Lok Sabha elections too, the YSRC is set to get massive victory. Out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in AP, the YSRC was leading in 21 seats and the TDP in the remaining four.
By 12 noon, the mandate was clear and the celebrations began at the YSRC central office at Tadepalli, adjacent to Jagan’s residence which he had moved into only a couple of months earlier. May be, he was so confident much before the polling was held, that he was going to rule the state for the next five years.
It took more than an hour for me to go from Vijayawada to Tadepalli, as the party rank and file were virtually storming the area. With great difficulty, I could reach the make-shift media centre set up adjacent to his residence.
At around 3 pm, Jagan came out flashing the victory sign and waving at the massive crowds at the party office. He was more relieved than jubilant, as he appeared conscious to the tremendous burden he has to bear on his shoulder in the coming days.
“It was not an unexpected victory. I sensed it already after watching the people’s response to my padayatra. It was the blessings of the people and the God, that made it possible,” Jagan said in his brief address to the media.
While thanking the people for bestowing him with such a huge mandate, the YSRC chief said he would adopt a friendly approach towards the Centre.
In a week from now, Jagan will be completing one year in office and entering into the second year. There might be bouquets and brickbats during this one year, but by and large, Jagan appears to be going on right track to fulfil his welfare and development agenda.
All the best, Mr Jagan!