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Andhra Assembly Polls: Chandrababu Naidu refocuses on power, Jagan banking on ‘Navaratnalu Plus’

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The ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) are in a fierce battle in Andhra Pradesh, with both parties seeking to establish dominance in terms of poll promises as the state gears up for the voting to the 175-member Assembly on Monday.

The YSRCP is banking on its welfare schemes and its poll guarantees ‘Navaratnalu plus’ while the TDP along with its ally partners BJP and Jana Sena are highlighting the failures of the state government and a promise to eradicate unemployment.

The ruling YSRCP is contesting on all 175 seats eyeing another term while as part of a seat-sharing arrangement among NDA partners, TDP is contesting on 144 assembly seats, Jana Sena on 21 and BJP on 10.

Andhra Chief Minister and YSRCP president YS Jagan (Pulivendula), TDP supremo and former CM N Chandrababu Naidu (Kuppam), Janasena chief and actor Pawan Kalyan (Pithapuram) are the key candidates in the fray for the assembly polls in the state.

The Andhra CM has also vowed to develop Amaravati as the legislative capital and Kurnool as the judicial capital. “Immediately after YSRCP forms the government in 2024, Visakhapatnam will be made the executive capital as the seat of the government. It will be developed as the growth engine for the state,” Jagan Mohan Reddy said earlier in April this year.

However, the TDP chief came down heavily on the Andhra CM for his announcement to establish three separate capitals.

“He wants to make three capitals. After 10 years, three capitals. Five-year mandate they have given to you. For five years, he didn’t do anything. Now he is talking about three capitals. There was an existing capital, and that was Amravati. Even the Government of India recognised that and gave grants, everything. Why have you demolished?” Naidu asked.

Another major debate in the state was surrounding the 4 per cent Muslim reservation in the state. CM Jagan Mohan has promised to preserve the 4 per cent of Muslim reservations.

“On one hand, Chandrababu Naidu continues to join hands with the BJP which stands on removing the 4 per cent Muslim reservation, on the other hand, to seek minority votes, he comes up with new drama. Have you witnessed a chameleon-like Chandrababu Naidu? Come what may, 4 per cent of Muslim reservations will remain and that is YSR Congress Party’s final word on it. My only question to Chandrababu Naidu is why does he continue the alliance with the NDA even after the NDA government pledges to cancel the 4 per cent reservation?,” the YSRCP chief said during one of his election campaigns.

While the TDP chief said that giving reservations “cannot solve the problem” but has to “think beyond that.”

“We have given reservations for SCs, STs and such sections over decades, seven decades. Are they better off today? Is it not your responsibility to do something else, something more? That is where we have to think. Then only empowerment will take place for all sections. Reservation is not the only thing that needs to be done. That is the need of the hour. You cannot ignore that. That alone cannot solve the problem,” Naidu said.

“I’m not saying reservations you remove. Be clear. That alone cannot empower them from all angles. So it’s reservation plus plus. That is where I am working. I am telling you today. 4 per cent reservations. I supported in Supreme Court during my tenure. And then I engaged best advocates to protect the reservations,” he added.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other prominent BJP leaders including Union Home Minister Amit Shah have categorically stated that the BJP will not give reservations to Muslims based on religion, contradicting this stance, TDP chief Naidu has promised to preserve the 4 per cent reservation for the Muslims under the OBC category in the state.

Jagan Mohan Reddy has promised to gradually hike welfare pensions from Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500 per month and govern the state from Visakhapatnam. The Telugu Desam Party, Janasena and BJP combine also promised to offer Rs 3,000 monthly financial assistance to unemployed youth.

The YSRCP has assured to increase annual financial assistance to the farmers under Rythu Bharosa to Rs 16,000 from the existing Rs 13,500. The party has promised to continue the financial assistance extended under YSR Cheyutha to women aged between 45 and 60 for another five years.

The TDP-led tripartite alliance promised to conduct a ‘skill census’ across the state. They have also promised that through Thalliki Vandhanam, they will provide Rs 15,000 for every school-going child.

BJP top brass including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party chief JP Nadda, led the poll campaigns in the state in a bid to woo the voters.

With Jagan’s sister and state Congress chief YS Sharmila in the fray for Lok Sabha elections, intense campaigning is undertaken by the Congress party also seeking to revive the party in the southern state.

During the 2019 elections, YSRCP registered a landslide victory in Andhra Pradesh, winning 151 of the 175 seats in the Assembly, dethroning the TDP government.

The 25 Lok Sabha constituencies will also be voting simultaneously with the assembly polls on May 13. They are Amalapuram, Anakapalli, Anantapur, Araku, Bapatla, Chittoor, Eluru, Guntur, Hindupur, Kadapa, Kakinada, Kurnool, Machilipatnam, Narsapuram, Narasaraopet, Nandyal, Nellore, Ongole, Rajahmundry, Rajamet, Srikakulam, Tirupati, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and Vijaywada.

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