Poll fever seems to have gripped Andhra Pradesh much ahead of other States. Two obsessively determined leaders, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and Leader of the Opposition YS Jaganmohan Reddy have already gone into election mode. Both are already working on ways and means to outwit each other in the battlefield where the stakes will be much greater this time around.
Not to be caught napping, Jagan is embarking on a rather ambitious 3,000-km walkathon, which includes going to the people with his party manifesto as also educating them about the YSR Bharosa scheme to each of 33 lakh farmers holding less than five acres of land.
The scheme provides for a financial assistance of Rs 50,000, monthly scholarship for every primary, high school and junior college student, completion of all irrigation projects on a time-bound basis, building 25 lakh houses for BPL families, and an increase in the social security pension amount from the current Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000. Although they seem well-intended, he has drawn wrath for his more ambitious statement. By stating that he wishes to rule for 39 years, he has opened himself to criticism.
Not surprisingly, the young leader is hoping to win over women voters, for whom he has mentioned about implementing prohibition in three phases – increasing the price of liquor, decreasing wine shops and finally making liquor available only in five-star hotels.
Naidu has since 2014 been focussing on irrigation and agriculture and is simultaneously struggling hard to showcase the yet-to-be accomplished capital city Amaravati. To some extent, he has been successful, as some major educational institutions and medical giants from UK and Dubai have signed MoUs to set up hospitals and medical colleges in the state.
He wants to come back to power by completing Polavaram project, implementing the flagship ‘Neeru-Chettu' (water-tree) – which is aimed at making the state drought-proof – introducing a health insurance scheme named NTR Arogya Raksha Scheme, and offering free bicycles for girl students to encourage girl child education.
Looking at the larger picture, it is unlikely that the ruling party would have a cakewalk. Its fortunes may take a dent if Naidu fails to implement his promise of reservations for Kapus. As far as YSRCP is concerned, certain proposals of Jagan seem to be troubling party legislators.
Jagan is likely to announce that YSRCP will boycott the ensuing monsoon session of the state Assembly alleging that it is being convened deliberately to put spokes in his padayatra. If the YSRCP finally decides to do so, then it would be nothing short of scoring a self-goal.