HYDERABAD, Telangana — “Bye Bye Babu,” reads a clock at the YSR Congress Party’s (YSRCP) headquarters in Amaravathi. The clock counts down the Telugu Desam Party’s N. Chandrababu Naidu’s current tenure as Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister, and the day when Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy will presumably take over.
Jagan, as he is popularly known, is confident of sweeping not just the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections but also a good share of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Political pundits and exit polls agree: the latest numbers suggest Jagan will be the next chief minister of AP and the YSR Congress, his party named after his father, would win between 16 and 18 Lok Sabha seats.
The polls have been wrong before: In 2014 too, exit polls had favoured Jagan as Chief Minister, yet the YSR congress could win only 67 of 175 seats in Andhra Pradesh’s Vidhan Sabha. The TDP won 102, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won four seats and Naidu became Chief Minister. In the Lok Sabha, Naidu won out as well — winning a total of 17 LS seats with the BJP, while YSRCP won eight.
Yet this time, the mood in Andhra Pradesh seems different. Jagan 2019 seems a much improved version from five years ago. His rise epitomises the Indian National Congress’s crisis of leadership since the party’s heyday at the head of the United Progressive Alliance, and the growth of regional leaders and parties at the expense of the grand old party of Indian independence.
In 2009, Jagan’s father — YS Rajashekara Reddy — was the lynchpin of the Congress’s total control over Andhra Pradesh when he died in a freak helicopter accident in September that year. The day after YSR’s death, a long list of Congress MLAs petitioned the Congress national leadership to appoint Jagan as the Chief Minister. The party did not relent.