YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) president Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy will start his election campaign from 16 March. Reddy, who walked 3,648 kilomeres across Andhra Pradesh on foot as part of his ‘Padayatra’ from November 2017 to January this year, will begin his current campaign from the Gurazala assembly constituency in Guntur district.
Reddy’s YSRCP will be looking to defeat the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which is led by AP chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. On 16 March, Reddy will begin campaign by addressing a public meeting. He is expected to tour all 175 assembly constituencies His sister Y.S. Sharmila and mother Y.S. Vijayamma will also accompany him. In AP, both the Lok Sabha and assembly polls will be held together on 11 April.
The YSRCP’s campaign this time is also being managed by the Indian Political Action Committee (IPAC), which has built a handful of campaigns over the last few years to target the TDP in AP. From ‘Ravali Jagan, Kavali Jagan’ (we want Jagan, Jagan should win) to Reddy’s ‘Padayatra’, YSRCP has also strengthened its booth-level workers on ground for the upcoming polls.
A YSRCP functionary, who did not want to be named, said that one of the aims of the campaign is to create a narrative against Naidu and to target the TDP over failing to get the special status category (SCS) for AP. The SCS, which was promised to the state before its bifurcation in 2014, has now become a matter of political contention. The Centre had given AP a special package instead, stating that the state cannot be given SCS last year.
In the coming polls, the TDP will face the YSRCP alone, unlike in 2014 when it was in an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which was also supported by the actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan-led Jana Sena Party (JSP). As of now, the TDP has 125 MLAs of the total 175, including 22 who defected from the YSRCP, which now has 44 MLAs (there have also been subsequent defections back and forth between MLAs and MPs from both parties).
Jagan Mohan Reddy is currently facing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) cases for owning disproportionate assets illegally. He spent over a year in jail before being released on bail in 2013.