Andhra Pradesh may be heading for hung assembly

April 14th, 2009 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, April 14 (IANS) As the curtains ring down Tuesday on campaigning for the first phase of the Andhra Pradesh assembly polls - and for round one of the parliamentary elections - the state appears to be heading towards its first hung assembly.

No survey has so far predicted any clear winner though it is more or less certain that the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) of superstar Chiranjeevi is out of the power race. But it may play a decisive role in deciding who will finally govern.

As things stand at the end of the campaigning for the first phase, both the ruling party and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-led Grand Alliance may be unable to muster a majority on their own and may have to look for support from the PRP or other parties.

However, analysts say a last minute swing of one to two percent votes in favour of either formation can change the equation.

While there is no anti-incumbency wave against the government, there is palpable anger among people against sitting legislators in several constituencies due to local factors. On the other hand, there are cracks within the four-party opposition alliance and the presence of the PRP in some districts. All this could throw up a fractured verdict.

The chances of TDP returning to power would largely depend on the impact its promises of free colour television and cash doles for poor would have. TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu’s appeal to people to open bank accounts to receive the money can woo the voters at the last minute.

The Congress has made no new promise but is seeking another mandate on the basis of its performance and is questioning Naidu’s credibility in the light of his track record during his nine-year rule (1995-2004).

It will also be interesting to see how many seats the TDP would get on its own and if other constituents of the opposition alliance - Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the two left parties Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) - play kingmakers.

The TDP is contesting 219 of the 294 assembly seats leaving the remaining seats for TRS, CPI and CPI-M. In 2004 when a strong anti-incumbency was sweeping the state, these parties were with the Congress.

The Congress party then bagged 185 seats and the tally of the alliance led by it was 228. TDP finished a poor second with only 45 seats.

The Congress this time is contesting on its own. Political analysts say while TDP has regained some lost ground, the friendly fight among the alliance partners and presence of rebels in several constituencies does not augur well for it.

With virtually no presence of PRP in the vital Telangana region, Congress and the alliance are locked in a close battle in the region that sends 119 members to state assembly.

Telangana along with north coastal Andhra is going to polls in the first phase, which covers 154 assembly and 22 Lok Sabha constituencies.

The second phase on April 23 will see polling in 150 assembly and 20 Lok Sabha constituencies in south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema. PRP has some presence in three districts in the southern coast while it will be a direct fight between Congress and TDP in the rest of the region and Rayalaseema.

Bharatiya Janata Party, which is also contesting on its own, has its own vote banks in a few urban areas in Telangana and coastal Andhra. Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) too has its stronghold in the Muslim majority old city of Hyderabad.

Lok Satta, launched by former bureaucrat Jaiprakash Narayan, may also spring a surprise by winning a couple of seats in urban areas.

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