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Shrewd Naidu counters Jagan with calculated moves (News Analysis)

IANS  |  Amaravati 

With three months to go for simultaneous elections to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha, the ruling and the main opposition Party are bracing for what is expected to be a keen tussle.

With his 14-month-long 'padyatra' or walkathon, of Opposition Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy has infused enthusiasm among the of Party (YSRCP) cadres while Minister continues to shock his main opponent with calculated moves.

Jagan, as the YSRCP is popularly known, last week concluded his 'padyatra' at Ichchapuram in district bordering Odisha. His foot-march covered 3,648 km, claimed to be the longest walkathon undertaken by any in

Known for mingling with people and developing an instant rapport with them, heard their problems in every village he visited and promised what YSRCP will do if voted to power.

hopes to repeat what his father and former Minister (YSR) had achieved in 2004 - covering 1,450 km across in then undivided catapulting to power and ending Chandrababu Naidu's nearly decade-long rule. Rajasekhara Reddy, however, died in a helicopter crash in September 2009 soon after the Congress was returned to power.

Surpassing his late father in terms of the distance covered, the 46-year-old is now aiming to unseat same Chandrababu Naidu. Heavily on his late father's legacy but lacking YSR's charisma, Jagan faces a daunting task.

Naidu, a shrewd politician, is using every trick in the book to checkmate Jagan. The TDP chief, who had accepted the special package announced by in lieu of special category status, stunned all by taking a U-turn on the issue and walking out of BJP-led NDA government last March.

Naidu, who last year completed 40 years in politics, apparently realised that the YSRCP, by taking up the issue of special category status may queer the pitch for the TDP. Accusing Modi of betraying the people of Andhra Pradesh, Naidu also labelled Jagan as Modi's agent.

However, Naidu's biggest gamble came when he joined hands with the Congress, a party which was number one enemy for him and for TDP for 36 years. Defending this as a democratic compulsion, the 68-year-old embarked on bringing together all non-BJP parties for an alliance at the national level. He, however, failed in his first attempt as the alliance-led by the Congress faced a crushing defeat in last month's Telangana elections.

Undeterred by this, Naidu continued making fast moves in Andhra Pradesh to keep up the pressure on Jagan. In the latest move, the TDP enhanced the social security pensions, a promise made by Jagan during his 'padyatra'.

With the ridiculing Naidu's plans to develop capital city Amaravati remaining confined to designs for the last five years, the has speeded up the works in recent weeks to reiterate his determination to build a world-class city even without support from the Centre.

Targeting Modi and Jagan on the one hand and calculated moves to stem any anti-incumbency on the other, Naidu is confident of not only retaining power but also winning a majority of the 25 Lok Sabha seats from the state to once again play a key role in the national

YSRCP leaders, however, believe there is groundswell of public anger against the TDP.

"The TDP may be reduced to single digit. This may seem an exaggeration but it is not, going by the strong anti-incumbency sentiments," claimed Shaikh Mohammed Iqbal, a retired who joined the YSRCP a few months ago.

With Naidu no longer enjoying the backing of BJP and actor-Pawan Kalyan, Jagan hopes the changed political scenario would help the YSRCP to come to power.

In 2014, the TDP had bagged 102 seats in 175-member Assembly but its vote share was just two percent more than that of YSRCP, which secured 67 seats.

Whichever way one looks at it, an exciting battle is on the cards.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, January 14 2019. 14:28 IST