People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 13

April 05, 2009


Andhra Pradesh: United Opposition, Isolated Congress

V Srinivasa Rao

ELECTIONS to Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly will be held along with that of the parliament on April 16-23, 2009. This time around the basic contest would be between the four friendly allies-TDP, CPI (M), CPI, TRS-and the Congress. The four friendly parties have finalised their talks on seat adjustments and are going ahead with an all out campaign against the ruling Congress. They have planned to conduct massive joint public meetings in the important centres across the state during second and third weeks of April. This apart, all the four parties have already planned and are into extensive campaign on behalf of their respective parties.

The Congress party tried to project itself as the 'first runner off the block' and one with considerable advantage as they had announced their list of candidates in advance. 'Unfortunately' for them and true to their culture they were not able to reap any advantage from it as they are facing many internal squabbles and problems due to rebels. The Prajarajyam Party (PRP) is still unable to finalise its seats and moreover its impact is confined to five-six districts. Though BJP is contesting from all the seats, it is more or less marginalised. Though there are other small parties, it can be safely vouched that the contest by and large is between the four party alliance and the Congress.

In the last elections, Congress had won 29 seats in the Lok Sabha and 185 in the assembly. In those elections, Congress had contested along with the TRS and the Left parties. Those elections were held at a time when the TDP was with BJP and had earned ill-repute due to its implementation of World Bank reforms. All these factors contributed to the thumping victory for the Congress party. Now the situation has undergone a thorough change. Congress was not only isolated from all its allies but also from many sections of the people. This erosion is significant in the urban areas. The dubious drama of Congress on the issue of Telengana and its opportunistic stand on the categorisation of Scheduled Castes had further contributed to the erosion of its base.

These five years of Congress rule had witnessed lot of changes in the political situation in the state. (i) The Congress party had failed to implement its election promises earning considerable ire from the people. Going against their promise of reviewing the agreements with World Bank, they have concluded new agreements with dangerous conditionalities that have led to the collection of user charges on both drinking water and for irrigation. It had failed to implement its most popular promise of supplying free and uninterrupted electricity to agriculture. In spite of good monsoon, peasants failed to get minimum support price for their produce that continued the spate of suicides. They also have miserably failed to provide loans at three per cent interest rate to SHGs.

  1. The ruling party had taken corruption in the state to hitherto unseen new heights starting from Jalayagnam to that of mulit-crore scam involving Y S Jagan, son of chief minister. The brazenness of Satyam-Maytas scam can be understood when the state government threatened Sri E Sridharan, who has an unblemished record and clean image with a defamation case when he had in fact registered his objections to the Hyderabad Metro Rail Project awarded to Maytas. The method in which Y S Jagan had siphoned off money to Jagati Publications and his other companies and industries, the manner in which the government had rewarded those people with public contracts is new in the annals of history of corporate corruption in the country. The present government had become most unpopular because of these serious corruption charges.

  2. The Congress government had earned public outrage for the manner in which it had dealt with popular movements and demonstrations. It had suppressed with an iron hand and violated all the democratic norms. It had resorted to police firing on fishermen protesting against taking over their means of livelihood in Visakhapatnam and brutal lathi charges in many places across the state wherever people had come out demanding their rights. The epitome of this is the killing of seven people in the infamous Mudigonda firing when the people sat in a dharna demanding house sites.

  3. Law and order is another casualty under the rule of the Congress. It had used its hold on state power to eliminate political opponents and slapped false cases. Under the pretext of curbing Naxalism in the state, it had killed many innocent people in false encounters, forcing even the High Court to book the officials involved in these encounters under sections of homicide.

  4. This period also witnessed exorbitant increase in the prices of essential commodities like rice shooting over Rs 30 per kg, pulses above Rs 40, not to speak of edible oil. All these added to the miseries of the people and made them angry on the Congress. Local level Congress leaders are facing the wrath of the people.

The impact of these factors became visible immediately after the election campaign had started. The chief minister himself got a taste of it in this election campaign when he was questioned by many people of the promises he had made and the failures of the state government. The inaugural public meeting of the chief minister in Chevella which, he terms as a sentimental place, was a big flop show with people not turning up according to their expectations. Even the meeting in Utnur held in the heart of tribal land in Telengana region was a flop.

The highly inflated Congress' balloon of propaganda is slowly losing its steam. With the declaration of elections, all the dirt that the government tried to cover up with glossy make-up of publicity hype is coming out once again. Being exposed of its naked face, the Congress party is now placing its bets on 'money power'.

The Congress party was in a mistaken assumption that the PRP would cut into TDP votes and with this division of opposition votes, it can easily retain power. But that assumption is increasingly proving to be wrong as it is becoming evident that PRP is cutting into the votes of Congress. This is going to further affect the Congress in the coastal areas very badly.

PRP was inaugurated with much fanfare few months back but it failed to grow into a major political force in the state. The unity of four main opposition parties had confined the space for PRP. Moreover the lack of proper and clear cut political understanding also acted as an impediment to its growth. All the talk of providing an alternate to both the Congress and TDP have failed to convince people, as it is only the leaders who migrated from Congress and TDP who are running the show in PRP, instead of new blood. This too had disappointed its admirers.

The Congress party was desperately praying for the seat sharing talks between the four opposition parties to fail. Even this proved to be a distant dream with the four parties clinching their talks successfully. The entire projected break away proved to be nothing but a storm in a tea cup. The media, inclined towards Congress tried to magnify the problems during seat sharing talks and project them in a big way. The four parties had resolved most of these problems, except for two or three relating to assembly seats. There is a friendly contest between CPI(M) and CPI in Mangalagiri assembly constituency.


Lok Sabha














The Congress party tried in vain to isolate the Left and is now concentrating its energies to ensure the defeat of the Left at any cost. Its ire on the Left emerges from the fact that right from the day one, it is the Left that had been reminding it of its promises and exerting pressure on the government for their implementation. They had waited for a year for the Congress to implement its poll promises. After the Congress had failed, strong popular movements and struggles were built across the state. The CPI(M) state secretary was served legal notice for demanding the government to curb corruption in the Rs 60,000 crores being spent for the construction of irrigation projects. In fact these projects have become the major hubs of corruption in the state. It is once again the Left that stood in the forefront in the struggle for land to the landless and houses to the homeless. The Left also steadfastly exposed the largesse of the government in allocating one lakh acres of land to the big monied sections while refusing to hand over even 60 square yards of land to the homeless.

All these struggles had enormously increased the prestige of the Left amongst the people. This is one of the main reasons for the impact of the Left to be significantly visible in these elections. Though the number of seats contested by the Left parties is less, they have the necessary strength to impact the outcome throughout the state. It is this prestige of the Left parties, gained through the struggles and their voting influence throughout the state that had boosted the opposition unity.

The role played by the Left parties at the national level and their efforts to work for the unity of the non-Congress secular alternative had also given impetus to the unity of the opposition parties in the state. People in the state are feeling that now there is a real fight between the Congress and the four party alliance, making these elections all the more interesting. This unity had given the necessary confidence to the people and is making things that much more difficult for the Congress.