Fighting a do-or-die electoral battle in Andhra Pradesh on April 11, the main opposition YSR Congress Sunday announced its candidates for all 175 assembly seats, retaining almost all the sitting MLAs and giving a major share to the backward communities. YSRC chief Y S Jaganmohan Reddy who is aspiring to become the chief minister in his late father Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's footsteps will, for the second time, contest from his family pocket borough Pulivendula in Kadapa district.
In 2014, Jagan won the seat by a record margin of 74,256 votes, the highest in the state. The announcement of candidates, however, triggered some rebellion in the party in a few districts, including Guntur, Prakasam and Visakhapatnam where some aspirants were denied tickets.
Floated in 2011 after Jaganmohan Reddy quit the Congress over denial of chief ministership, the YSRC lost the race in the 2014 general elections, getting just 0.3 per cent less vote share than the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) that captured power winning 106 seats in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) then. Though the YSRC won 67 seats, as many as 23 of its MLAs defected to the ruling party in 2016 and 2017.
In the context, the 2019 election is a do-or-die battle for the YSRC as its political longevity will largely depend on election result. Political strategist Prashant Kishore, who worked the electoral magic for Narendra Modi in 2014, is YSRC's consultant now.
Kishore and his team conducted various rounds of surveys to select the candidates for the assembly election. Former IAS officer Vara Prasad, who was elected as YSRC MP from Tirupati in 2014, is now being fielded for the assembly from Gudur (SC) constituency.
Former IPS officer K Iqbal has been named for Hindupur against Telugu film star and sitting MLA Nandamuri Balakrishna. Former Union Minister and BJP leader Daggubati Purandeswari's husband Venkateswara Rao will be the YSRC candidate from Parchuru.
Though their son was supposed to be the candidate, his US citizenship came in the way, forcing Venkateswara Rao to jump into the fray though he wanted to retire from active politics. The YSRC has only 15 women candidates out of the 175 and 41 BCs.
As many as 12 former ministers, 37 former MLAs and 15 doctors have also been chosen for the assembly battle.
(With inputs from agencies.)