Vijayawada, Oct 29: Politics in Andhra Pradesh is all set to heat up with YSR Congress party chief Y. S. Jaganmoan Reddy’s ‘padyatra’ from November 6 to blow poll bugle.
The leader of opposition will launch his state-wide foot march, focussed on the 2019 elections, from Idupulapaya village in YSR Kadapa district, hoping to recreate the magic of his late father.
Under this ‘padyatra’ named ‘praja sankalpam’ Jagan will cover 3000 km in 125 constituencies over a period of six months. He will participate in 5000 roadside meetings and 125 public gatherings.
It aims to reach out to more than 20,000 party members, and will impact 2 crore individuals across the state.
The ‘padayatra’ will commence with a meeting with a selected influencer group, followed by the walk and informal roadside meetings with the public. After the gathering, a second meet is also scheduled after lunch before the next stretch of the ‘padyatra’ begins.
The padayatra will start from Idupulapaya and culminate in Ichchapuram.
It was 14 years ago that a similar ‘padyatra’ by his father Y.S. Rajashekhara Reddy had catapulted him to the chief ministerial post in undivided Andhra Pradesh. YSRCP leaders hope that Jagan by connecting with the masses will repeat 2004.
YSR had undertaken similar ‘padyatra’ to dethrone Chandrababu Naidu in 2004. Now his son is looking to repeat this feat, though in truncated Andhra Pradesh.
Interestingly, Naidu also had undertaken a ‘padyatra; in 2013-2014 and came to power in after 10 years exile.
Such is the significance of the ‘padyatra’ for the main and only opposition party in the state that it has decided to stay away from the legislature session likely to begin next month.
While announcing its decision to boycott the session, YSRCP said it would not attend the session till 21 MLAs who crossed over to ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) during last three years are disqualified.
As four of these defected MLAs joined state cabinet in April this year, Jagan’s party is seeking their immediate removal.
Though the ‘padayatra’, YSRCP is trying to reach out to every household and highlight “failures and lies” of the Chandrababu Naidu-led government. Jagan will also try to expose TDP government for its failure to get “Special Status” for the state promised by the Centre at the time of bifurcation of undivided Andhra Pradesh.
Jagan will tell people that they are part of YSR ‘Kutumbam’ (family), it understands public concerns and voices their suffering, represents the interests of every single individual in the state and is working towards transforming Andhra Pradesh into the most developed state in India.
To coincide with the ‘padyatra’, YSRCP will also launch another campaign “Rachabanda”, to discuss grievances of people and understand their aspirations on November 11. This programme will continue for four months.
‘Rachabanda’ will extend over 120 days and will cover all 175 constituencies in the state.
One lakh party booth members will participate along with 15,000 plus influencers to hold more than 5000 meetings and gather above 50 lakh singatures supporting YSRCP’s demand for special status. The total outreach of Rachabanda is expected to be 2.5 crore people across the state.
Rachabanda will involve Palle Nidra (a stay at a local’s house in a selected village) and a door-to-door drive to propagate the need for special category status.
Political observers say it would be tough task for Jagan to recreate the magic of his late father as the political situation is much different than what it was at that time.
Naidu had been in power since 1995 and the anti-incumbency factor worked against him. Distress in agriculture due to successive droughts, farmers’ suicides and Naidu’s pro-rich image had also helped YSR in bringing back Congress to power.
Though YSRCP bagged 67 seats in 175-member assembly in 2014 and emerged as the only political party, the series of defections over last three years has weakened the party.
Jagan may find it tough to take on Naidu, who along with his ally BJP, will be seeking fresh mandate to complete the unfinished task of building a ‘new Andhra Pradesh’ with a world-class capital Amaravati.
The leader of opposition may also be under pressure as TDP will rake up the illegal assets cases against him during the campaign.
The cases relating to alleged corruption during his father’s regime continued to haunt Jagan. Dealing a blow to his ‘padyatra, special CBI court in Hyderabad refused to grant him exemption from appearance to allow him to go on his scheduled ‘padayatra’. Jagan has to appear in court on Fridays.
In September, the Hyderabad High Court had dismissed Jagan’s plea by observing that the petitioner had suddenly “invented the cause of padayatra”. The judge said that the Supreme Court had made an observation that the petitioner was facing charges of serious economic offences.