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Jagan wave sweeps Andhra Pradesh

Riding on a strong sympathy wave, the jailed MP Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy's nascent YSR Congress decimated the ruling Congress on Friday, bagging 15 of the 18 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in by-elections in Andhra Pradesh. This show can be a political game-changer in the state.

The Congress won just two assembly seats, while the main opposition the Telugu Desam Party faced a complete rout in a keenly awaited outcome in which the 39-year-old Kadapa MP is fighting a bitter public battle with the Congress over his father and late chief minister Y S Rajsekhara Reddy's political legacy.

In the by-polls, touted as the semi-finals ahead of the 2014 assembly election, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi managed to scrape through with a slender margin of 1,562 votes in Parkal, the lone assembly seat in the Telangana region, as it faced a close contest from the nominee of the 15-month-old YSR Congress.

With these results, the Congress saw its majority reduced to just seven seats, having 155 MLAs in a house of 294. The YSR Congress has increased its tally to 17. In the final analysis, the Congress lost 14 seats.

The YSR Congress' M Rajamohan Reddy won the Nellore Lok Sabha seat, defeating the high-profile T Subbirami Reddy of the Congress by a margin of 2,91,745 votes. It was also a loss of face for the actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi, as the YSR Congress wrested the Tirupati assembly seat he vacated upon his election to Rajya Sabha in March.

The victory of the YSR Congress was so resounding that the Congress lost deposits in four constituencies, though it managed to win two seats, largely on the caste factor.

Lodged in the Chanchalguda prison as an undertrial in the disproportionate assets case against him, Jagan sent out a clear warning signal to the Congress that he would be its nemesis in the next election as people are solidly behind him.

'Sympathy was a dominant factor while anti-incumbency was an added factor that helped YSR Congress sweep the by-polls. It's a warning for us to set things in order ... It's time for serious introspection,' the rural development minister Dokka Manikya Varaprasad observed.

The Congress now faces the threat of desertions by some of its MLAs to the YSR Congress, as two MLAs had already expressed loyalty to Jagan soon after his arrest.

The TDP too attributed YSRC's victory to the sympathy factor. 'We had nothing to lose or gain in the by-elections. The 2014 election are our ultimate goal,' the TDP leader Motkupalli Narasimhulu remarked.
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