YSR Congress Party retains Tirupati Lok Sabha constituency

Published : May 04, 2021 14:01 IST

Maddila Gurumoorthy (second from right) on the campaign trail on March 29. Photo: The Hindu Archives

The byelection to the constituency was necessitated by the sudden demise of Balli Durgaprasad, the YSRCP member of parliament.

Continuing with its impressive electoral journey in Andhra Pradesh, the ruling Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) swept away the opposition as it resoundingly won the byelection to the prestigious Tirupati Lok Sabha constituency. The constituency, which is located in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, is also home to the Tirumala Venkateswara temple, one of the richest and most frequently visited Hindu temples in the world.

Maddila Gurumoorthy, the YSRCP candidate who is Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s family physiotherapist, won the hard fought, and at times controversial, contest with a considerable lead. Gurumoorthy polled 6,26,108 votes to defeat Panabaka Lakshmi, a former Union Minister and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) candidate, by 2,71,592 votes. K. Ratnaprabha, a former Karnataka Chief Secretary and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Jana Sena Party’s nominee, secured only 57,080 votes and finished a poor third. The BJP’s hope for a consolidation of Hindu votes failed miserably in the election.

The byelection to the Tirupati Lok Sabha constituency was necessitated by the sudden demise of Balli Durgaprasad, the YSRCP member of parliament.

While Ratnaprabha garnered 5.17 per cent of the votes, the YSRCP increased its vote share from the 55.03 per cent in 2019 to over 56.67 per cent now. The TDP’s vote share dipped from 37.65 per cent in 2019 to just over 32.10 per cent. The Congress failed to make any impression in the byelection.

For the BJP, which was in a pre-election alliance with popular matinee idol Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party, the election was a litmus test to check how far it had made inroads into the Andhra Pradesh body politic. Making the contest a prestigious one, Sunil Deodhar, the BJP’s national secretary, had asserted in the run-up to the election: “[The] saffron’s first stop in Andhra Pradesh is going to be Tirupati.”

The party did improve its vote share from the dismal 1.23 per cent in in 2019 to 5.17 per cent. But the party leadership’s oft-repeated accusation that Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government had failed to protect Hindu Temples in Andhra Pradesh because he was a practising Christian failed to cut any ice with the electorate. Allegations from the BJP, the TDP and the Jana Sena Party that the YSRCP encouraged religious conversions in the State, particularly in Tirupati, too, did not sway voters.

The BJP had hoped to reap dividends by wooing the Balijas/Kapu community, a dominant caste in Andhra Pradesh to which both Pawan Kalyan and Somu Veerraju, Andhra Pradesh BJP president, belong. But, as analysts point out, a single community may not be enough to force an election victory.