Debating India

ELECTIONS 2004

Andhra assembly begins with changed equations

IANS

Monday 31 May 2004

HYDERABAD : The first session of Andhra Pradesh’s new assembly began here on Monday with fortunes overturning and roles reversed between the two main parties and their chiefs.

In this 12th legislative assembly, the Congress has occupied the treasury benches after being in the opposition for nearly a decade. A landslide victory in the recent election saw the party bag 185 seats in the 294-member house.

And the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which had 180 members in the last assembly, has been relegated to the opposition benches with just 47 members.

This is the second time in the party’s 22-year-old history that it is sitting in the opposition benches and the first time that its strength has been reduced to less than 50.

Equally interesting is the reversal of roles of the two friends-turned-foes who head the two parties.

Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who led the 91-member Congress in the last assembly, is the new chief minister and leader of the house. His one-time friend in the Congress and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, who was chief minister for a record nine-and-a-half years, is leader of the opposition.

The assembly will miss many prominent TDP leaders who were elected to the house in every election since 1983, including former ministers P. Ashok Gajapthi Raju and K. Vidyadhar Rao, who were known for their bitter attacks on the Congress.

Twenty-eight out of 35 ministers of the Naidu government lost the elections. Besides, assembly speaker K. Pratibha Bharthi was also among prominent losers.

The TDP has only former finance minister Y. Ramakrishnudu and former home minister T. Devender Goud to support Naidu in taking on the Congress.

TDP’s ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had 12 members in last assembly, now has only two. Congress ally Communist Party of India (CPI), which drew a blank in the last elections, has six members in this house while another ally, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), increased its tally from two to nine.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), formed in 2001, has 26 members in the new house. The TRS, which is fighting for statehood to the Telangana region, contested the elections in alliance with the Congress.

The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s tally remains at four. Fourteen independents and others have also been elected to the house as against only five in the last elections. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) opened their account by bagging a seat each.

Another interesting feature of the new house is that 92 members have been elected for the first time. Forty-nine of them are from the Congress while 16 are from the TDP.

The number of woman legislators has come down from 28 to 25, including 16 from the Congress and six from the TDP.

See online : The Times of India

P.S.

in The Times of India, Monday, May 31, 2004.

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