Chiranjeevi’s party hit TDP’s chances

May 17th, 2009 - 7:51 pm ICT by IANS  

By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, May 17 (IANS) The Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) of Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi, which drew a blank in Lok Sabha elections in Adndhra Pradesh and won only 18 seats in the state assembly, nevertheless dealt a blow to the prospects of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and helped the Congress retain power in the state.

The PRP, which emerged as the third political force, polled nearly 16 percent votes, splitting whatever anti-incumbency votes were there against the government.

The Congress, which retained power with 157 seats in 294-member assembly and bagged 33 out of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats, polled 37 percent votes, down from 38.56 percent in 2004 elections.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has proved correct in his pre-poll assessment that the PRP and the TDP-led four party grand alliance would divide whatever little anti-incumbency sentiment there was against the government.

The PRP, which was launched by Chiranjeevi in August last year on the slogan of social justice, was expected to make a dent in the Congress party’s vote bank, especially in coastal Andhra, where Kapus - Chiranjeevi’s community - are in sizeable numbers. Kapus had been the traditional voters for the Congress but the analysis shows that the voting was not along caste lines.

The TDP had hoped that PRP would cut into Congress votes in coastal Andhra, especially in East Godavari, West Godavari and Krishna districts but that did not happen and the PRP, in fact, affected the TDP’s prospects.

The TDP’s vote share has come down sharply from 37.59 percent in 2004 to 28 percent in 2009, though its tally in the assembly has gone up from 45 to 90 and it won one more Lok Sabha seat than its tally of five in the last elections.

Another factor was the decline of vote share of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), a constituent of the grand alliance. Polling 3.71 percent votes, down from 6.64 in last elections, its strength in the assembly also came down from 26 to 10 seats and Lok Sabha seats from five to two.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (CPI-M) polled 1.15 and 1.16 percent votes, a marginal fall from 2004 percentage. The TRS, the CPI and the CPI-M were allies of the Congress in the last elections but this time, they had joined hands with the TDP to form the grand alliance.

Lok Satta, another entrant into state politics, also polled 1.72 percent votes. Though it won only one seat, the party floated by bureaucrat-turned-politician Jayaprakash Narayan appears to have attracted urban voters, further damaging the prospects of the TDP.

Before the elections, the TDP used to target Chiranjeevi for being soft towards the Congress and had even claimed of “match-fixing” between the two. The superstar, however, had rubbished the charges and instead alleged of “match-fixing” between the two main parties to prevent the emergence of the PRP as an alternative force.

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