YSR Congress is so far doing well only in mass contact activities. Be it Odarpu Yatra or now Padayatra, the YSR Congress and its chief Jagan Mohan Reddy are good at organising them. There would be huge, in fact, unexceptional crowd at these programmes for them. Jagan Mohan Reddy or any of his party leaders does not require much effort to mobilise crowd. The crowd follows Jagan voluntarily and that is what a big disadvantage for the party and leadership.
The voluntary crowd is taken for granted by the party, which was the reason for its defeat in the 2014 election. The party is yet to learn the fact that crowd at the meeting is different from the voters at the polling booth. The crowd is not voters. It needs a lot of strategy to convert the crowd into voters. Only on rare occasions, the crowd turns voters and India had seen that only two to three times, while AP had seen it only twice.
India saw the crowd turning voluntarily into voters in 1977 when Jayaprakash Narayana led the movement against emergency. Then it was in the subsequent elections when Indira Gandhi was arrested and the Congress split. Again it was after Indira Gandhi’s death and Rajiv Gandhi led the Congress. Though some similar incidents were noticed in 2014 in favour of Narendra Modi, it was not a complete turn of the crowd into voters. The BJP had to do a lot of homework and underground work to convert part of the crowd into voters to taste that big win.
In Andhra Pradesh, the crowd converting voluntarily into voters happened only twice, when N T Rama Rao launched the party and contested his first election in 1983. The second was when Y S Rajasekhar Reddy contested the polls in 2004 after his historical padayatra. The rest is a crowd and voter divide.
YSR Congress and Jagan Mohan Reddy are under the impression that the crowd rallying with him for his padayatra is his voters. That makes him confident of his next victory. In fact, he also had this feeling in the 2014 elections too when the poll agencies and analysts predicted. But, the end result was his defeat. If he continues to be under the same impression again, he will lose the polls again, may be with much less margin and less seats than he lost the 2014 elections.
He needs to promote leaders from not just one caste – Reddy – in the party. There are sectors like SCs, Minorities, BCs, whom the party has to promote and give them due place in the party. Jagan Mohan Reddy could not fill the vacancy caused by the exit of Jupudi Prabhakara Rao to satisfy the SCs. There are no BC or minority leaders to be known to their respective communities across the State.
The party committees at the booth level should also accommodate the representatives of these castes to convert the crowd into voters. It is these castes or these leaders who conduct the elections at the bottom and not the leaders sitting on the top. So far Jagan Mohan Reddy’s party is identified with the leaders from his own caste. This feeling is there at the bottom which was not there when Rajasekhar Reddy was leading Congress. He had D Srinivas from BCs, Koneru Ranga Rao from SCs, Shabbir Ali from Minorities, Jakkampudi Ramamohan Rao from Kapus and there were many representing each caste and group. That magnanimity or strategy are missing in Jagan Mohan Reddy. Unless this is corrected, at the most the YSR Congress might end up getting 77 seats against 67 he got lost time and less than 2 lakh votes margin for him and TDP against 5 lakh votes margin he got in 2014 elections.