An uncertain contest
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In the chatter about assembly polls in Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, each no doubt important in its own way, another set of elections in Andhra Pradesh — where polling is due on May 8 — does not quite appear on the radar. But it could have some serious implications for the ruling Congress party and politics in a state that has been important to the UPA project since 2004.
The byelections for Kadapa, a parliamentary constituency, and Pulivendula, an assembly seat, are not just symbolic contests. Jaganmohan Reddy, the angry young breakaway rebel from the Congress and son of the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), and his mother Vijayalakshmi are in the fray in Kadapa and Pulivendula, respectively. In over two years, this will be the third time the electorate in Pulivendula will cast their vote; and the second time in Kadapa. Directly impacted by the events set into motion by the chopper crash that killed YSR in September last year, his hometown in the now renamed "YSR district", is turning into a straw poll on who is the true inheritor of his complex and mercurial legacy.
YSR is credited with largely reinventing the Congress in the state and by implication at the Centre. But handling his rebellious son after his demise proved tricky for the party. It did not want to hand over the reins of the state to a controversial youngster, nor did it succeed in convincing him to wait for the right moment and stay on course till then. This has led to this disastrous situation where the Congress is fighting him for YSR's legacy as it is the only thing that seems to keep the party afloat. With the state having got its third CM since 2009, the battle for control of "the Congress spirit" is now being fought in Kadapa and Pulivendula.
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