Worried over the loss in the 2019 assembly polls, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu chaired a day-long review meeting with party leaders in his constituency of Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday.
Naidu managed to retain his seat, but the winning margin was down from 50,000 in 2014 to 30,000 votes this time. This, despite the fact that he has been winning the seat since 1989. The former Andhra chief minister secured 99,657 votes (55.18%) out of about 180,000 votes which were polled, while his nearest rival, Krishna Chandra Mouli of the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) got 69,251 votes. A senior TDP leader, requesting anonymity, said that the declining winning margin, was not a good sign for Naidu.
“Chandrababu Naidu will spend the night in Kuppam, reviewing what went wrong and go through mandal and village level data of voters to identify the decrease in his winning margin. He has not lost that seat since 1989 when he first contested from that assembly constituency," the TDP leader said.
In the 2019 elections, the YSRCP, led by chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, won a staggering 151 assembly seats out of 175, besides 22 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats.
After the loss in elections, the TDP suffered yet another setback when four of its Rajya Sabha MPs and a few other state-level leaders joined the BJP last month. This, at a time, when Naidu was holidaying in Europe.
After his return on 25 June, he began taking stock of the situation. “We will also check which community shifted its vote to the YSRCP from us. Backward Classes are our backbone in AP, and if they shift it is worrying," the TDP leader added.
Naidu’s son and TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh was defeated by YSRCP MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy in his first ever contest from the Mangalagiri assembly seat, which falls under the Amaravati capital region. Lokesh, who secured 103,095 votes, lost the seat by a margin of 5,270 votes.
In the 2014 assembly elections, Naidu had won the Kuppam seat with a majority of 47,121 votes. He secured 102,952 votes, while his nearest rival and YSRCP candidate got 55,831 votes. The TDP came to power in AP in 2014 by winning 102 assembly seats.
“The going is very tough for the TDP now. They need to go back to the people. They have lost two elections in the past too and the TDP still has a good voter base, so it can rework and come back strong. But it also cannot lose ground further, and let the YSRCP capture the entire state. That is what Naidu must not allow to happen," said political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.
Reddy added that Naidu’s decrease in majority of votes in Kuppam means there is something very wrong with the TDP in AP. “They should start working from there and do some self-introspection," he added.
A YSRCP leader, who did not want to be quoted, said the 2019 result indicated the end for Naidu’s political future. “He will face tougher battles next time. The TDP won’t be able to bounce back in 2024 given the situation," he added.