YS Jaganmohan Reddy
YSRCP president YS Jaganmohan Reddy campaigning for Nandyal electionsYSRCP official website

Nandyal by-election was seen as the bellwether of Andhra Pradesh politics in the run up to the assembly elections in 2019.

The debacle in Nandyal is likely to thwart Jaganmohan Reddy's dream of ascending the chief minister chair. The by-election is a call for introspection and he needs to hit the ground running to understand the aspirations of the people in the bifurcated state.    

Proving all the poll surveys wrong, ruling Telugu Desam Party's candidate Bhuma Brahmananda Reddy won with a thumping majority of 27,456 votes by polling 50,484 votes; YSRC's Silpa Mohan Reddy polled 32,313 votes. TDP last tasted victory in the Nandyal constituency in 1999. 

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate the TDP candidate.  

Also, Nandyal Lok Sabha constituency holds a special importance to Indian National Congress. It is from this Lok Sabha constituency, under which Nandyal assembly segment falls, PV Narasimha Rao contested to remain as prime minister in 1991.

Back then, the Congress stalwart registered 58,0297 votes in the Lok Sabha bypoll. But now, in the assembly bypoll, the grand old party hit the rock bottom with its contestant Gaddam Abdul Khadar polling just 633 votes, while 526 votes went to NOTA.

Chandrababu Naidu Modi
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. [Representational Image]IANS

Caste-religion matrix

With the constituency having a 50,000-odd Muslim voters, Congress tried to cash in on it by fielding a candidate from the community, but in vain. Balijas, a sub-caste of Kapu community, are a close second with 45,000 voters, and are known for historically challenging Reddy leaders.

However, TDP enjoyed the support of Balijas while the party's MLC N Md Farooq wooed Muslim voters. Unlike in 1994 and 1999, this time Telugu Desam chose not to field a Muslim, and instead went with a Reddy candidate. Both TDP and YSRC leaders sported skull caps during the campaign. The Left parties, though did not take part in the elections, asked voters to defeat the ruling party.

Celebrating their victory in Nandyal after 19 years, party workers boasted people chose TDP's good governance and development over criminal politics of YSRCP, but the opposition party alleged TDP of electoral malpractices.

YS Jagan, desperate to win the seat, turned the politcal battle into a personal rivalry. He made insulting remarks like, 'Naidu should be shot dead' for cheating the people of Andhra Pradesh. His irresponsible rant has caused the loss in the bypoll. The party lacks a strong second line of leadership. The voters are tired of Jagan's one-man show. 

He was accessible to the masses during the campaign and thought he would tap on the resentment in the Rayalaseema region over Naidu's over emphasis on the capital region, Amaravati, writes TS Sudhir in Firstpost. Also, the Nandyal was traditionally a Congress seat with only occasional wins for TDP.

Further, Silpa Mohan Reddy is a last-minute TDP defector. This might be the reason why people did not trust him. It also reflects lack of talent in YSRC's own ranks that it had to rely on a turncoat. Post bifurcation in 2014, people chose Naidu to lead the state considering his long stint as an able administrator in the undivided state. Going by the verdict of the recent polls, it seems people are not looking for a change in the political landscape anytime soon.  

YS Jagan has been a leader for long, now people are expecting him to be a statesman as well.