Vijayawada: The ruling YSR Congress’ remarkable performance in the civic polls on Sunday is more significant than the party sweeping the 2019 Assembly elections with 151 seats.
If the 2019 victory was a mandate born out of expectations and an experiment by the electorate, Sunday’s vote is a loud and clear endorsement of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s leadership and the major decisions he took in the last year-and-a-half including the decentralisation of governance by setting up three capitals.
The ruling party won the Vijayawada and Guntur corporations from where the CM wanted to shift the illusionary Amaravati capital of then Chief Minister N. Chandrabau Naidu to Visakhapatnam where, too, the YSRC invaded the otherwise strong fortress of the TD.
The outcome punctured Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu’s challenge to the Chief Minister to dissolve the Assembly and seek a fresh mandate from the people before implementing the three-capital formula. There were no takers too for Naidu’s re-winded effort to demonise the CM with serious accusations of politics of vengeance, corruption and bloodshed.
Failing to learn lessons, the principal Opposition quickly attributed Jagan Mohan Reddy’s success to the use of force by his party and its leaders’ threat to stop freebies in the event of the party’s loss. Ironically, the beneficiaries of the freebies are comparatively fewer in the urban areas that embraced the ruling party on Sunday.
The ground reality which the Opposition does not want to acknowledge is the pivotal role played by the volunteer system, the brainchild of the Chief Minister. The delivery mechanism of citizen services has become effective, unbiased and hassle-free. The volunteers along with health workers did a commendable job of Covid-19 relief operations and the revival of the Aarogyasri scheme earned Jagan Mohan Reddy an emotional follower base as was the case with his father and late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy.
Enrolment in government schools increased this year, indicating parents’ confidence in the CM’s dream of providing better and competitive education by making English medium compulsory and improving basic infrastructure through the Naadu-Nedu scheme. This, along with women-centric approach in designing and delivering schemes, helped the party.
People seem to have noticed and rewarded the YSRC supremo’s top priority to deliver what he promised in the 2019 manifesto, despite financial constraints and absence of tokenism in his words or deeds.
No doubt, the party has been cherishing the victory against several odds — severe financial constraints, Covid, a hostile judiciary and State Election Commission. But, it should not be taken for granted that people are happy despite the scarcity of sand, lopsided liquor policy of high prices for low quality and lesser-known products, worst condition of roads across the state, nil capital expenditure and stunted employment growth. As of now, they have just overlooked these problems.