Democratic Process and Electoral Politics in Andhra Pradesh K.C. Suri Department of Political Science & Public Administration Nagarjuna University Guntur, AP Report submitted as part of “Livelihood Options” research in South Asia Overseas Development Institute London 2002
2 Contents I. Introduction II. Andhra Pradesh: A Profile III. An Outline of Politics and Elections in Andhra and Telengana prior to the Formation of Andhra Pradesh IV. The Era of Congress Dominance, 1957-1982 V. Emergence of the Telugu Desam Party: Politics of Populism and Confrontation VI. Politics of PragmatismVII. Elections to the Panchayati Raj Bodies, 2001VIII. Concluding ObservationsTablesSelect Bibliography
3 I Introduction India is a Union of States, according to its Constitution, with state power distributedbetween a (federal) government at the Centre and the governments of the constituent States(in this report the word ‘State’ denotes a constituent province of the Indian Union and theword ‘state’ is used in its juridical sense). Some of the major States of India are as big assome of the large independent countries of the world. The importance of the States lies notmerely in their vast territory or population, but in their distinct social structure, well-developed languages, culture and history. This tremendous diversity is mainly responsible forgiving rise to different patterns of politics in different States. The government at the Statelevel is responsible for most of the usual functions of a government, such as making laws ona wide-variety of matters, their execution, maintenance of law and order, adjudication,commerce, industry, agriculture, education and health. During the last 50 years of its existence as republic, States have come to occupy anincreasingly important place in the Indian political system. The political processes at the Statelevel assumed significance after the breakdown of the Congress dominance in the late 1960s.With the emergence of the State based parties in 1980s there has been growing divergence inpolitics at the State and Central (federal) levels. Different party systems had taken shape indifferent States and the electoral outcomes began to differ from State to State in the last twodecades, bringing a great deal of diversity among the States too (Manor, 1988). Theemergence of coalition governments since 1989, in which the State parties became importantpartners, brought the State to the centre stage. The onset of liberalization policies from theearly 1990s further increased the salience of the State. National and international financialinstitutions and agencies, companies and industrial houses began to deal directly with theStates. State governments have assumed an active role in the development of infrastructure inthe State, and determine a host of policies in accordance with the priorities of the ruling partyat the State level. The bewildering variety of political forms at the State level led some observers of Indianpolitics to think of it as ‘patternless’ or a big mess out of which one could make little sense. Ahighly plural society characterized by tremendous socio-cultural and economic diversity,continuously undergoing radical changes, politics no doubt appears to be in a state ofperpetual flux. Therefore, Indian politics today may be comprehended better if one tries tounderstand it from the perspective of State politics, not as emanating from the ‘Centre’, but asa cluster or coalescence of diverse State politics. While the States operate within the nationalpolicy framework and political situation, Centre operates within the limitations imposed bythe dynamics of State politics. There is a two-way interaction between the State and Centralpolitics. At the time India became Independent the country faced, to use the phrase of RajniKothari, the challenge of simultaneous change and development. It took upon itself thedaunting tasks of reforming social structure, promoting agricultural and industrialdevelopment, and fostering democratic political institutions, all at the same time. TheConstitution was a social covenant in democratic socialism, as it assured to its people liberty,equality and social justice. Elections have become the main agency through which democracyhas been strengthened in the country. Commentators of Indian politics have observed that
4such a situation gave rise to both political development as well as political decay. Newsections of people were mobilized into the political firmament, participation of people inpolitics was made possible on an increasing scale and activists and leaders are recruited andnurtured. At the same the demands from the newly mobilized sections of people haveincreased on the state. There have been attempts to strike a balance between the claims ofdiverse segments of society for political power, social wealth and other opportunities, whichwere often conflicting. This proved to be a difficult exercise in recent years. The era ofliberalization and economic reforms has affected the thinking about the nature and role ofstate and government in the country. The new economic policies, with their stress onderegulation, privatization and destatization, have raised new questions about developmentand welfare. The tensions in the process of change are too many. The new panchayati rajsystem mandated by the Constitution recently has opened new avenues of politicalparticipation to include more and more representatives of different sections of society in thedecision-making bodies at the local level. Elections have assumed significance as hundreds of millions of voters, living underconditions of illiteracy, poverty, backwardness, pre-modern social relations, religiousdistinctions, and inequalities based on caste built over hundreds of years, were repeatedlycalled upon to exercise their political right to choose their representatives at the Central, Stateand local levels. Fears that elections in India would either fail because of the awesomestructural limitations and unpreparedness of the country to institutionalize parliamentarydemocracy or that they would have destabilizing consequences, which the political elitescannot control, proved to be wrong. There may be several limitations, deficiencies andfailures in the functioning of India’s democracy, which need to be overcome, but there arealso commendable achievements. Very few might be happy with what has been achieved, butthere is also the satisfaction that Indians are able to work to solve their problems under ademocratic framework. So far India has gone through 13 Parliamentary elections and almost an equal number ofLegislative Assembly elections in each State. It is indeed a great experiment in consolidatingand operating democracy in a large and ancient country like India trying to stand on its ownlegs, after nearly two centuries of colonial rule. For a country with relatively little experienceof struggle for parliamentary democracy and franchise, afflicted by several congenital defectsand constrained by several social problems, it was no mean achievement of its people thatelections could take place at regular intervals, parties in government could be changedwithout violence, power could be peacefully transferred to new sets of leaders, politicalparties could transform themselves from the era of mass politics of the freedom struggle tocompetition, and a government based on law with an assurance of basic freedoms to thepeople were made possible. The greatest achievement of periodical elections was thedemocratization of society and politics. Importance of the study of elections as a means to understand the political processes iswell recognized all over the world. As Norman Palmer pointed out, the study of electionsprovides an opportunity to study the political system in action. If we take a longitudinal viewof the political system, elections are situated at its interstices, but they bring out in sharprelief the interacting social forces that are at work in the polity, provide insights into variousaspects of the system and its actual functioning. An account of electoral process and State politics in Andhra Pradesh during the last 50years is presented in the following pages. An attempt is made in this study to analyze theways in which the regional, faction, class and caste factors, on which different political actors
5depend for support, have operated in State politics and shaped the electoral outcomes. It alsodiscusses how the policies and programmes of the State government and also the strategies ofcompeting political parties have been influenced by the logic of electoral politics. It examinesthe process of the emergence of the Telugu Desam Party and the factors for its consolidation.It also focuses on certain aspects of political decay and the challenges to the politicalleadership in the State. The multiple and shifting strategies of the ruling TDP and theCongress in winning the elections in recent years are looked into. Since the ‘LivelihoodOptions Research’ in South Asia project has its focus on the panchayati raj system in AP, theresults of the recent elections to the local bodies are discussed in detail in a separate sectiontowards the end of this Report. In the process it analyzes the dilemma faced by the rulingparty in balancing the need for economic growth through the implementation of radicaleconomic reforms and the compulsions of competitive electoral politics as they manifest inthe continuation of the welfare programmes for the benefit of the poor and the disadvantaged.It points out certain areas and issues for further study in understanding the elections andpolitics in the State. II Andhra Pradesh: A Profile The State of Andhra Pradesh was formed in the year 1956. The language of most of thepeople in the State is denoted by either of the two terms – Telugu or Andhra, though thesetwo bear no phonetic or etymological affinity (Nagabhushana Sharma and VeerabhadraSastry, 1995). There were two important stages in the formation of the State. At the time ofIndependence the Telugu-speaking people were distributed in the old multilingual MadrasState and the princely State of Hyderabad. The Telugu-speaking areas of the Madras Statewere separated on October 1, 1953 to create the ‘Andhra State’, with Kurnool as capital. ThisAndhra region itself was composed of two sub-regions, namely the Andhra region, calledpopularly as the Andhra, and the south interior region, known as Rayalaseema. Later, theTelugu-speaking districts – referred to as Telengana region – of the old Hyderabad State weremerged with the Andhra State on November 1, 1956, under the State Reorganization Act toform the greater Andhra (Visalandhra), called Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad, the former capitalof the Nizam State, became the capital of the enlarged State (Venkatarangaiah, 1965;Narayana Rao, 1973; Sarojini, 1968; Rao, 1988). It was the first State in Independent India tobe formed on the basis of linguistic principle, i.e., one unified State for people speaking onelanguage. The State came into existence after a prolonged struggle and a great deal of bargaining andcompromises by the political elites of different regions. Levels of economic development inthe three regions was uneven at the time of State formation due to variation in importantfactors such as political legacy, land relations, rain fall, soil fertility, terrain, cropping patternand other agricultural practices, irrigation and other infrastructure facilities and literacy andhealth standards. These inter-regional disparities and the politicization of the regionalidentities, especially in the Telengana region, have affected State politics and elections sinceits formation. The backward regions of the State have made impressive progress in the lastfour decades, but this ‘congenital defect’ is yet to be overcome. Although AP is known as anintegrated State of the Telugus, integration in social, cultural, emotional and economic termsis not complete. The demand for bifurcation of the State and separate statehood for Telenganahas been repeatedly coming to the surface, sometimes assuming the proportions of awidespread movement and violent conflict. While some sections of middle classes, upper
6castes and political leadership in Telengana entertain a feeling that their region remainedbackward because of the raw deal meted out to the region by the successive governments anddisproportional benefits reaped by the people from the coastal region, some sections incoastal Andhra think that they could develop much faster if they are not encumbered by theTelengana region. It has now become customary to look at Andhra Pradesh as consisting of three distinctregions: the ‘Circars’ (literally the ‘government districts’) or the coastal Andhra regionconsisting of nine districts (Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, WestGodavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore) and comprising 43 per cent population ofthe State; the Rayalaseema region (‘the land of kings’) consisting of four districts (Chittoor,Cuddapah, Anantapur and Kurnool) and comprising 18 per cent of the population; and theTelengana region (‘the land of Telugus’) consisting of 10 districts (Mahbubnagar, RangaReddy, Hyderabad, Medak, Nizamabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam andNalgonda) with 39 per cent of the population (Census of India, AP, 2001). The coastal andRayalaseema districts are often jointly referred to as the ‘Andhra’ in contradistinction to the‘Telengana.’ There are 28,123 villages in the State which constitute its rural frame. All villages exceptforest villages are revenue villages with distinct revenue boundaries. 117 ‘Statutory Towns’(including six Municipal Corporations of Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur,Warangal and Rajamundry) and 93 ‘Census Towns’ (with a minimum population of 5,000,75 per cent of the male working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits and a densityof population of at least 400 per sq.km.) together constitute the urban frame of the State. Aspart of decentralization of administrative set up in 1986 each district is divided into a numberof Mandals and village panchayats. At the time of local bodies elections in July-August 2001,there were 22 Zilla Parishads (excluding Hyderabad, which is entirely urban), 1,094 Mandalsand 21,943 village panchayats in the State. At the end of the year 2000 the electorate of theState stood at 50.58 millions. The State has 42 Lok Sabha constituencies. In Rajya Sabha it isrepresented by 18 Members. The strength of the State’s Legislative Assembly is 294.Nature and environment Andhra Pradesh forms a major cultural and geographical link between the northern andsouthern parts of India. It is situated in the tropical region between the latitudes 13o to 20onorth, and the longitudes 77o to 85o east. It is bounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east,Orissa in the northeast, Chattisgarh and Maharashtra in the north, Karnataka in the west andTamil Nadu in the south. AP has the second longest coastline in India (972 km.), runningfrom Ichchapuram in Srikakulam district in the north to Sriharikota in Nellore district in thesouth. There are seven working ports in the State, including one major port (Visakhapatnam)and two intermediate ports (Kakinada and Machilipatnam). The climate of Andhra Pradesh may be described as tropical-monsoonal type. The Statereceives its rainfall from the southwest and the northeast monsoons. Rainfall varies fromregion to region and fluctuates widely over time. The average rainfall ranges from about 74cm. in the South to about 200 cm. in the North, but the annual fluctuations are considerable.As more than 60 per cent of the net sown area has no assured irrigation facilities and dependson rainfall for cultivation, monsoons play a crucial role in deciding the agriculturalperformance of the State and the overall condition of the economy. Most parts of Telenganaand coastal Andhra receive fairly good rains. However, Rayalaseema is a zone of precariousrainfall, annual average being 69 cm. and as monsoon often fails in this area, it has long been
7known as the ‘stalking ground of famines’ (kshamaseema). Annual fluctuations in the rainfallare some times so heavy that several districts are often subjected either to floods or drought.Excess rainfall is as bad as deficit and a flood is as disastrous as a drought. Cyclones andfloods periodically devastate Coastal Andhra, causing heavy damage to standing crops,putting the economy of this region in great peril. Rivers constitute a vital element of the consciousness and way of life of the people in theriverine areas. The anicuts across the Godavari, the Krishna, and the Penna, described as‘poems in concrete’, were built more than a century ago. It was due to these irrigationprojects the Krishna-Godavari tracts of Andhra had experienced an ‘agrarian revolution’ in amanner quite unlike any other part of the Madras Presidency in those days. The changes inthe social and political organization of Andhra that followed the ‘agrarian revolution’ wereimmense. It is due to these irrigation projects that the central coastal districts even todayremain as ‘granaries’ of the State. Sharing of river waters is becoming a contentious issuebetween various regions of the State in the last two decades or so. Andhra Pradesh is also richin a variety of minerals, most important of them being coal, limestone, natural gas, barytes,manganese, mica and iron ore. Much of the industrial growth of the State is in mining andindustries dependent upon these minerals.Population characteristics Andhra Pradesh is the fifth largest State in India, both in terms of area and population. TheState’s population stood at 75.73 millions in 2001 (Census of India), which accounts for 7.4per cent of India’s population. The massive size of the State can be gauged from the fact thatonly 12 nations of the world have larger population than that of Andhra Pradesh. Thepopulation of the State has more than doubled since its formation. However, the decennialgrowth rate of population in Andhra Pradesh has come down to 13.86 during 1991-2001.This is the first time the growth rate of the population has come down compared to theprevious decade and is the lowest since Independence. It is much less compared to the allIndia decennial growth rate of 21.34. Literacy rate in AP has gone up from 44.09 per cent in1991 to 61.11 per cent in 2001, but it is still lower than the all India figure of 65.38 per cent.The difference in literacy rate between rural and urban population, tribal and non-tribalpeople, socially backward castes and the upper castes, and males and females is still verywide. With about 27 per cent of the population living in urban areas, the level of urbanization inthe State is almost on par with the national average. Though the proportion of urbanpopulation as a whole has been increasing in the State, the rate at which it has grown hasdeclined substantially in recent years. If high rates of urbanization during the earlier threedecades were attributed to the stagnation of rural economy, the steep decline in the rate ofurbanization during 1991-2001 needs to be examined. Although the proportion of peopleliving in rural areas has declined from 82.6 per cent in 1961 to 72.92 per cent in 2001, theliving standards of the rural people overall remain low, as most of them live under conditionsof agrarian overpopulation and limited opportunities for productive work. When one speaksto members of peasant families in rural areas it becomes clear how eager the peasants are tomove to towns if they get any opportunity to do so. Parents do not usually prefer to give theirdaughter in marriage to a person living in village or engaged in agriculture and would ratherprefer a small employee in an office in urban area. The data on workforce distribution indicate a high magnitude of dependency onagriculture. Nearly 80 per cent of the total workers in the State are still engaged in agriculture
8(cultivators and agricultural labourers put together). While the proportion of cultivatorsamong the ‘main workers’ has declined the proportion of agricultural labourers has been onthe rise. The proportion of agricultural labourers in AP is the highest among all the States inIndia. Their proportion tends to be even higher in the agriculturally advanced areas of theState. It is well known that all those who are involved in agriculture do not have sufficientwork. With mechanization the need for manual labour in villages has been on the decline.Such a situation leads to overcrowding in agriculture and disguised unemployment. Theelders in the villages often speak about the laziness syndrome prevailing in the rural areas,indicating that there is no sufficient work for all members of the village. Since dependency onagriculture over time has not declined much in the State, the per capita income of agrarianpopulation can be improved only with significant rise in productivity levels or a major shiftof rural population to urban areas relocating people in different occupations. In terms of religious identities, Andhra Pradesh is a mosaic of different faiths. AlthoughBuddhism was said to be the major religion till around the early medieval period, it hasbecome virtually non-existent today. The ‘Hindus’, including the Scheduled Castes andScheduled Tribe people, constitute about 89 per cent of the total population. But the term‘Hindu’ is a problematic one, because any person not claiming the other prevalent religions,such as Islam and Christianity, is generally subsumed under this category by Censusenumerators. Thus Hinduism encompasses tribals, whose major religious form is animism.The North coastal Andhra has a preponderance of Hindus with about 99 per cent inSrikakulam and Vizianagaram districts, and about 97 per cent in Visakhapatnam and EastGodavari districts. Muslims occupy the second place with about 9 per cent of population.Though Shias are in a considerable number, the majority are Sunnis. Mulsims are locatedlargely in certain districts and towns. They are in considerable number in Rayalaseema region(about 13 per cent), Guntur district (11 per cent) and parts of Telengana. The capital city,Hyderabad, has 26 per cent Muslims, where communal politics thrive. The Christiansconstitute about 1.8 per cent in the State, with a high concentration in Guntur district (6.7 percent) followed by Krishna and West Godavari. Christianity spread mainly among the sociallydepressed castes, to which it rendered great service, but there is also a small section of uppercaste Christians. The percentage of Christians may be apparently low because a largernumber of dalit Christians claim themselves Hindu for technical reasons. Jains, Buddhists andSikhs constitute about 0.4, 0.3 and 0.3 per cent respectively.Economy AP, like most States in India, has a multi-structured economy, ranging from shiftingcultivation in Agency areas of Srikakulam district to high-tech industries in Hyderabad. Asmentioned earlier agriculture is still the mainstay of AP economy. The net area irrigatedwas 4.38 million hectares (41 per cent of net sown area) in 1999-2000, constituting about 8per cent of the total irrigated land in the country, and slightly above the national average(39%). But area irrigated and sources of irrigation vary from region to region. During theearly decades after the State came into existence canal irrigation was given priority but forsome time there is hardly any progress in bringing more land under canal irrigation. Foodgrains account for about half of the total cropped area. Rice alone accounts for nearly half ofthe total area under food crops. Pulses, oil seeds, especially groundnut, cotton, chillies,sugarcane, tobacco, and turmeric are the principal commercial crops of the State. Agricultural productivity per hectare showed an increase since 1970-71, in the regions andcrops that came under the influence of green revolution. Commercialization of agriculture inthe State became prominent from the early 70s. But commercialization of agriculture also had
9its adverse effects on the peasant economy. Agriculture has become capital intensive andlosses due to natural calamities or pest or price fluctuations in the market, often depriving thepeasant remunerative prices to his product, meant the collapse of his economy. Severalmembers of peasant classes, who in search of prosperity go for commercial crops and incurheavy investments, mostly raised through loans, end up as paupers. Such ‘pauperization’from the status of an independent peasant results in loss of dignity for the peasant as he cannot pay back his debts, marry off his daughter, support his children in their education,experiences a sudden fall in the living standards of the family, etc. This in turn drives thepeasant to a state of despair and loss of interest in life. Suicides of farmers, especially thosewho grow commercial crops such as cotton, tobacco, chillies and groundnut, have become arecurrent phenomenon in the last two decades. AP has the dubious distinction of recordinghighest number of suicide deaths of farmers in the country in recent years. The share of agriculture in Net State Domestic Product fell to about 25 per cent in2000-01, from about 60 per cent at the time of State formation. This decline, in itself, maynot be something to be worried about, provided it was accompanied by a correspondingdecline in the proportion of population dependent on agriculture. But that did not happen.Thus the agrarian population in the State is sharing this sharply diminished share of the totalincome. It meant a condition of increasing relative deprivation for the rural classes. Data on the number and distribution of operational landholdings and the operated areaunder different landholding size-classes show that the number and percentage of marginaland small holdings and the area operated by them have been increasing, while the mediumand large holdings have been declining during the last three decades. While in the early 1970sthe medium and large landholdings accounted for 15.6 percent of the total holdings andoperated an area of 57 per cent of land, they in 1995-96 accounted for only 6 per cent of theholdings with an area of 30 per cent of land. There has been a sharp decline in the number oflarge holdings and the area operated by them. ‘Deconcentration’ of land has been takingplace in the State due to multiplicity of factors such as agrarian struggles by the communistand peasant organizations in the early decades, land ceiling laws enacted by the government,and out migration of members of land owning families to urban areas. Old type oflandlordism has been broken down in large parts of the State. Land ceiling laws have losttheir appeal. While in the pre-Independence period land passed from the zamindar and non-agricultural families to the members of intermediate castes, now land seems to be passingfrom peasant families, who have lost interest in agriculture or unable to keep their land, tomembers of backward and scheduled castes who are engaged in agriculture. These changes inthe agrarian structure have far-reaching socio-political implications. AP was a late entrant to the country’s industrial scene. The share of manufacturing sectorin the Net State Domestic Product has increased from 7.2 per cent in 1960-61 to 12.9 in1999-2000 (at constant prices, 1993-94). The share of secondary sector as a whole stood at19.4 per cent. Growth of industries in the State was mainly propelled by public sectorindustry, especially in pharmaceuticals, electrical equipment, heavy engineering andmachinery, iron and steel and fertilizers. Three-fourths of total employment in organizedsector was in public sector in 1998 (1,513,000 out of a total of 2,065,900), although it mighthave come down due to the stoppage of further investment and also disinvestment in publicsector in recent years. According to the data available for the year 1998, the most prominent industries, judgingby employment, were the manufacture of food products (22.9% of factory employment),followed by non-metallic mineral products (16.36%). Other important industry groups were
10machinery equipment and metal parts (10.92%), cotton textiles (7.14%), chemicals andchemical products (5.12%), metals and alloy industries (5.03%), paper and printing industries(3.28%), beverages and tobacco products (3.06%). During the 1990s, textiles, chemicals,paper, machinery and metal industries recorded faster growth. Much of the industrial growthtook place in and around Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam cities. The computer softwareexports saw an impressive growth in recent years. The prominent among household industriesis handlooms. The growth of industry in the State in recent decades has been identified as one of theoffshoots of agricultural growth since 1970s. The higher agricultural productivity andincomes have contributed to the pace of industrial development through supply ofentrepreneurs and investment resources as well as a rising demand for manufactures. It is saidthat a rapid accumulation of agricultural surpluses among the top segment of peasants andlandlords in the green revolution period, limited opportunities for further investment inagriculture in these regions due to land ceiling legislation in early 1970s, the rise of membersof peasant families to political prominence and their ability to influence the industrial andcredit policies contributed to the flow of agricultural surpluses into industry. The decadebetween 1975 and 1985 is considered a golden era for industrialization in the State. Poverty remains one of the major challenges to the Government and society in AP, aselsewhere in the country. The estimates of poverty by Minhas, et al, Expert Group, PlanningCommission and the World Bank, using State-specific poverty lines, show that poverty in APhas been declining since 1957-58, although the rate of decline varies from one estimate to theother. But the rate of decline is sharper since 1973-74. The rate of decline has been larger inAP as compared to several other States and India as a whole. The Planning Commissionestimates of rural and urban poverty in AP show that poverty has declined from 48.86 percent in 1973-74 to 22.19 in 1993-94. The figures for rural poverty were 48.49 and 15.92 andfor urban population 50.61 and 38.33 for the respective years. The latest government figuresshow that there has been a significant decline in recent years in the prevalence of both urbanand rural poverty in AP: the rural poverty had fallen to 11.05 (5.8 millions) per cent in1999-2000 and urban poverty to 26.63 per cent (6.1 millions), the combined poverty levelbeing 15.77 per cent (11.9 millions) (Government of AP, 2002). However, the NationalSample Survey Organisation’s 55th Round on Employment-Unemployment shows that therate of decline of poverty in AP was not this high (Sundaram, 2001). Several studies find that rural poverty is inversely related to agricultural production: inyears of higher production poverty falls and in years of low production or drought it rises.But it is surprising that the pace of reduction of poverty has slowed down since 1983, duringa period in which the poverty alleviation programmes assumed a large size and food subsidy(Rs.2 a kg rice) was implemented. Thus, it is difficult to establish any likely relation betweeneconomic reforms and poverty levels and also the relation between welfare schemes anddecline in the levels of poverty. Despite several welfare schemes the incidence of povertytends to be higher among the backward and scheduled castes and scheduled tribe population.While poverty causes hardship to those who have to live under it, it has its own political andelectoral implications. The promise of providing basic physical needs dominated the electionstrategies of the political parties in recent decades because of prevalence of poverty. We oftenhear that votes are purchased with money and other allurements. The poor people are soughtto be divided on caste and communal bases. The ‘public servants’ become arrogant andbehave as it they are masters because of the preponderance of poor people, who tend to befearful of the elites and hence submissive. Politicians tend to be corrupt and populist at thesame time.
11Society It is well known that Indian society and politics acquire a unique character because of itscaste structure. The role of caste factor occupied central place in the analysis of Indianpolitics, although some would argue that the role of caste has been over emphasized and thatIndian voters have been exercising their franchise based more considerations other than caste.It is somewhat difficult to relate class category to political process and electoral behaviour,and in any case there has been not much data available on this dimension. One finds it easy toemploy caste category, since it is easily felt and well articulated in politics. Since studies oncaste and class reveal a great deal of overlap between caste and class categories, someanalysts may as well presume that analysis of caste politics would also subsume, to certainextent, the analysis of class politics. Due to the changes in social relationships and the logic of universal adult franchise in afairly open and competitive electoral system the nature of caste identities and inter-casterelations have been undergoing continuous transformation in AP. Much of the research on thesociology of Indian politics in the post-Independence period has focussed on how thedominant castes came to occupy important place in politics and the means they have adoptedto retain political control. In the recent past the emerging elites from the backward andscheduled castes have been putting pressure for a ‘due’ share in the power structure. As aresponse, the established political parties have provided more room to these new elites at thehigher echelons of the party and public/political offices. The caste structure in AP is akin to the one extant in most other parts of India, if one viewsit as a traditional social order in which people are functionally dependent on each other butseparated as distinct groups stratified as high and low. But the nature of caste system hasbeen undergoing tremendous changes over hundreds of years, with varying patterns indifferent regions and as such one should not view caste as a fixed and rigid social relation.All castes, in AP, except the Brahmans, are coterminous with the linguistic boundaries of theState, though they share several features with other castes similarly placed in the socialhierarchy in other States. The distinct character of AP State politics can be attributed to alarge extent to this feature. It may be pointed out that there is a difficulty in speaking of auniform caste structure in AP too, as there are inter-regional and intra-regional variations. Forexample, the three north coastal districts differ very much from those of central and southcoastal region. There are also variations between the three regions of the State (Suri, 1996).As such we can only think in terms of broad outlines of caste structure in the State. Anotherproblem is that reliable data on the population proportions of various castes are not available.We can speak of only approximate figures (Ram Reddy, 1989). Often the leaders of variouscastes make exaggerated claims about their caste population. Among the dwijas (twice-born castes) the Brahmans constitute about 2-3 per cent of theState’s population. They held a pre-eminent position in society for a long time, whichcontinued till about the middle of the twentieth century. They were the first to take to Englisheducation and occupied important positions in the British administrative set up. They couldmake use of the initial advantages of the British rule and dominated the political scene duringfreedom struggle and in the initial years after Independence. Most of them gradually severedtheir rural roots and land connection and steadily shifted to urban areas due to a variety ofsocial and economic reasons. As members of a community, which has a historical head start,they are still in large numbers in the bureaucracy, mass media, academic institutions andother vital professions such as law, scientific research, medicine and management. The
12Vysyas, known as Komatis in the State, constitute another 2-3 per cent. Engaged in thetraditional occupation of trade, Komatis are omnipresent in the State. We find some wealthybusinessmen among the Komatis and the members of the caste carry on most of the trades –textiles, grain, banking, money-lending, grocery, shop-keeping, pawn-broking, etc. Andcurrently they are also engaged in entrepreneurial activities of bigger magnitude. Theirmembers are more or less equally distributed in all the districts. Rajus, who claim Kshatriyastatus, are mostly confined to the north and central coastal regions, may constitute about 1 percent. The non-Brahman caste groups such as the Reddis, Kammas, Kapus and Velamas, whosemain occupation has been cultivation, are the most important social groups in the State, interms of numerical strength, land control and access to political power. The term ‘dominantcaste’, coined by Srinivas, suits them very well. In the olden days they had enjoyed powerand prestige analogous to Kshatriyas in the North. Some of these peasant communitiesconsider themselves as the local variants of the ruler caste. All these peasant communitiesexperienced a continuous ascendancy in Andhra society and politics since 1920s. The hugeirrigation systems constructed in the later nineteenth century, to which a mention has beenmade earlier, enabled some members of these communities to accumulate agrarian surplusesand use the economic resources to lead a better life and go for English education. A class ofrich peasantry began to emerge among these castes in the twentieth century pre-Independenceperiod due to, among several other factors, rise in the price of agricultural produce, moneylending and trade in commercial crops. Their economic and educational advancement hadenabled them to challenge and dilute the Brahman dominance in the cultural and politicalspheres (Suri, 2000; Ramakrishna, 1993: 99-118; Innaiah, 1985; Barnett, 1976; Baker, 1976;Washbrook, 1976; Baker and Washbrook, 1975; Irshick, 1969). Their participation in theanti-colonial and anti-feudal struggles politicized them a great deal and produced a rich cropof leadership. Reddis, who constitute about 8-10 per cent of the State’s population, are distributed in allthe three regions of the State, particularly in the five Telengana districts of Karimnagar,Warangal, Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar and Khammam, the Circar districts of Guntur, Prakasamand Nellore and the four districts of Rayalaseema. In the past they were rulers in some partsof Andhra Pradesh. The caste title ‘Reddi’ comes from the Telugu word ‘redu’ or ‘rat’, whichmeans ‘ruler’. During the medieval period they were described as the enterprising class ofwarriors and military chiefs. In modern period, most of the paligars in Rayalaseema (chiefs oflarge territories till the early nineteenth century) and jagirdars, muktedars and deshmukhs (thefeudatory chiefs) of Telengana regions came from Reddi community. The state-wide spreadof the Reddis, their higher proportion in terms of their numbers among the peasant proprietorcastes in Andhra Pradesh, their traditional power in many districts and villages and gloriousantecedents of local rule in many parts of the State, coupled with their political initiative andinvolvement in the Congress and Communist politics before and after Independence, and theavailability of better caste leadership from village, mandal, district and the State levels, andabove all, their firm base in agricultural wealth, give Reddis a preeminence among thepeasant castes in Andhra Pradesh (Rasheeduddin Khan, 1969). The Kammas, who constitute about 4-5 per cent, are mostly concentrated in the Krishnaand Godavari delta and are in considerable numbers in Nellore, Chittoor, Ananthapur andKhammam districts. The central coastal Andhra region, consisting of East and WestGodavari, Krishna, Guntur and Prakasam districts, according to one Kamma caste historian,was once known as ‘Kamma Rashtra’. The Kammas consider themselves as Kshatriyas in theVarna hierarchy, and recall their privileged position in the reign of the Kakatiya dynasty
13(13-14th centuries). The Kammas of coastal Andhra carried out a non-Brahman movement in1920s and later. A pronounced hostility appears between the Kammas and Brahmans, perhapsbecause the latter view the Kammas as rivals not only in professions but also in cultural andintellectual arenas. Much of the analysis of state politics has been hinged upon the Kamma-Reddi rivalry in the State, although it is often exaggerated and distorted. The Velamas constitute another 1-2 per cent. They are as rich as the Reddis and theKammas and are largely concentrated in few areas -- mainly in the two Telangana districts ofKarimnagar and Khammam and in the Northern coastal district of Visakhapatnam. In smallernumbers, they are scattered in the Telangana districts of Warangal, Adilabad, Mahbubnagar,Nalgonda and Nizamabad, and in the Circar districts of Godavaris, Krishna, Guntur andNellore. Reddis and Velamas were the landlords and constituted the bedrock of the feudalsocial and political order in the pre-Independence period. The Kapu category makes up anywhere between 10 to 12 per cent. There are various sub-castes within the Kapu category, such as Telaga, Balija, Kapu, Munnuru Kapu, Ontari, etc.Nowadays they want to be addressed as Kapus only. Like Reddis they have a statewidespread, although there are few inter-sub caste marriages and inter-regional marriages withinthese communities. It seems the term Kapu is a generic category, which denotes cultivator. Itis said that once all the peasant communities were considered Kapus. In fact, in the 1921Census, the present Reddis were enumerated as Kapus. In several places the landowningcultivators are addressed by the agricultural labourers as ‘Kapu’. The Kapus keep the castetitle ‘Naidu’, but the Kammas too use this title in certain areas. Various caste groups which are known by the names of traditional hereditary occupations,mainly artisan and service occupations, constitute a large proportion of the population inAndhra society. These castes are today known as ‘backward castes’. Out of the 50 oddbackward castes listed by the government of the State, the major ones are the Yadava,Gowda, Padmasali, Rajaka, Mangali (who call themselves Nai Brahman), Kamsali (ViswaBrahman), Mudiraju, Boya, Waddera, Uppara, Kummari, Kammari, Medara, Pallekari(Agnikula Kshtriya), Perika, Gandla, Bhatraju and Kalavanthavulu. They add up to about35-40 per cent, although the Second AP Backward Classes Commission (1982) estimated thatthe BCs constitute 44 per cent of the State’s population. All these castes have their caste prideand regard themselves as having high social status, different from the one ascribed by theorthodox Brahmans. The Padmasalis and the Kamsalis regard themselves as the dwijas andculturally superior to several other communities. Some of these castes, such as the Yadavasand Gowdas, are engaged in cultivation, enjoy a good social standing and in recent years aregrowing in strength in education, employment and economic and political ascendancy. Thesecastes have been given reservation under OBC category since 1961. Andhra Pradesh is one of the major States with a large concentration of the ScheduledCastes (SCs), with about eight per cent of the total SC population of the country. There areabout 59 Scheduled Castes in the State with a share of about 16 per cent of the State’spopulation. Their proportion is more than 14 per cent in 19 districts. More than two-thirds(68%) of the SC population are agricultural labourers. The proportion of the SCs living belowthe poverty line would be also very high. Large majority of them are still subjected to socialdiscrimination, especially in rural areas, though the situation has undergone a great deal afterIndependence. In recent years the term ‘dalit’ is preferred to denote these communities.Malas and Madigas are the two major Scheduled Castes, which together constitute more than90 per cent of the State’s SC population. Numerically the Madigas are slightly more innumber than the Malas, but the latter are better placed in terms of education, urban
14employment and political opportunities. During the late 90s the Madigas waged a struggle forimproving their lot in general, and for categorization of SC reservations to ensure equaldistribution of benefits among the subgroups of the SCs (Suri, 2001; Balagopal, 2000). There are about 33 tribes, forming about 7 per cent of the population of the State. Koya,Banjara/Lambada, Konda reddi, Gond, Chenchu, Yerukala, Yanadi, Savara, and Jatavu arethe major ones. There are exclusive tribal tracts in the northern Circars and Telangana. Theeducational level among the tribals is extremely low and sections of some tribes still liveunder the conditions of natural economy. In the agency areas they are the victims of landalienation, indebtedness and bonded labour. There is also growing awareness among thesepeople about their rights and they are organized into their respective associations to wagecampaign and struggles to secure constitutional guarantees and protect their customary rightsover their lands.
15 III An Outline of Politics and Elections in Andhra and Telengana prior to the Formation of Andhra Pradesh Most of the tendencies and issues that came to the fore since the formation of the State ofAndhra Pradesh could be seen in an embryonic form during the period of State formationitself. The period between independence in August 1947 and the formation of the State inNovember 1956 saw a series of militant struggles in the Andhra and Telengana regions,policy measures that brought about far reaching changes in the agrarian structure, changes incaste and class relations, the emergence of new leadership from peasant communities,factional strife within the Congress and also its consolidation and political realignmentsamong various political forces of the State.Politics in Andhra Region: 1947-56 At the time of independence the Congress party in Andhra was rife with factional rivalries,which often made use of caste identities. There were two prominent factions in the APCC.One was led by the legendary figure, Tanguturi Prakasam, known as thee ‘Lion of Andhra’(Rudrayya Chowdary, 1971). The other group was led by Pattabhi Sitharamayya, anothersenior Brahman Congress leader, and subsequently the all India Congress president during1949-50 and the official Congress historian (Prasanna Kumar, 1978). The elections to theoffices of the leader of the Madras Congress Legislature Party and the president of the APCCprovided the occasions for a trial of strength between these rival groups. In a keen contest tothe APCC presidentship in April 1951 Sanjiva Reddy, sponsored by the Pattabhi group,defeated Ranga, whom Prakasam supported. The tussle between Ranga and Sanjiva Reddywas looked upon as a turning point in the Kamma-Reddi rivalry that was emerging in AP inthe post-independence period. The election outcome led to the exit of Prakasam and Rangafrom the Congress and the formation of a new party by them, called Praja Party.Subsequently when the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party (KMPP) was formed in June 1951, thePraja Party in Andhra merged with the KMPP. But Ranga wanted dissociated himself fromPrakasam later and formed in April 1951 Krishikar Lok Party (KLP), with himself as itschairman. Thus the Andhra Congress presented a picture of disunity and appeared that it wasgetting fragmented very soon, unlike in other States. While the Congress appeared to be weak in the State, perhaps weakest in the major Statesof India, the Communist, on the other hand, appeared to be gaining in strength. The growth ofthe Communist party prior to the formation of the State was extremely fast in Andhra andTelengana. The Communist party in Andhra can be said to have founded in September 1934when the Andhra Provincial Organizing Committee was formed at a meeting of communistrepresentatives from different districts at Vijayawada. The communists started LabourProtection League in 1935 as an open platform and started working in different towns ofcoastal districts. Later they joined the Congress Socialist party (CSP) and soon became itsleaders (Satyanarayana, 1983; Krishna Rao, 1989; Krishna Rao, 199). The communists grewas leaders of the peasant associations and led militant peasant struggles in some of thezamindari areas. The strength of the communists began to grow at a rapid pace during theSecond World War and after. But after independence, as a fall out of militant struggles wagedby the communists in Andhra and Telengana regions, the party in Andhra area was banned inJanuary 1948. When the ban was lifted the Communist party and its mass fronts, especiallythe student’s wing, actively participated in the agitation for the formation of Andhra State.
16 In the first General Elections to the Madras Assembly in 1952, popular support enjoyed bydifferent parties became clear. The Congress party in the Andhra area suffered a set back.Many of its Ministers and stalwarts were defeated. The Communist party emerged as thesingle largest party in Andhra region with 41 seats (out of 63 contested) and about 25 per centvote. Only Kerala (then Travancore-Cochin) could come closer to Andhra in terms of theelectoral support enjoyed by the communists in those days. Although the Congress securedabout 30 per cent vote, it could get only 40 seats out of 133 it had contested (Table 1). TheCommunist party was highly successful in the central coastal region. Apart from the supportit enjoyed among peasant classes and agricultural workers, the agitational activity of the partyfor a separate statehood strengthened the position of the communists. The poor performanceof the Congress was generally attributed to the internal factional rivalries, the presence of theKMPP and the KLP as its rivals and the evasive attitude of the Central leadership of the partytowards the demand for a separate linguistic State. After the General Elections the legislativemembers of the KLP agreed to join the Congress Legislature Party as ‘associated members’.The KMPP merged itself with the Socialist Party to form the Praja Socialist Party (PSP). Thus, when the Andhra State was finally formed in October 1953 the Congress strength inthe Assembly was only 40, and with the support of the KLP and independents it formed thelargest group with 60 members. As a result only a coalition government was possible. In apolitically correct step, the Congress offered the Chief Minister’s post to Prakasam, thepresident of the PSP, provided he agreed to return to its fold. Prakasam could not resist thebait of the top most executive office and the prestige of going down in Andhra history as thefirst CM of the State. The ‘old man’ (b.1872) found little difficulty leaving the PSP andreturning to the Congress, to become the first Andhra CM. As a result the KMPP group in thePSP, which supported Prakasam Ministry, left the PSP and formed the Praja party (PP). N.Sanjiva Reddy, who also lobbied for Chief Ministership, became the Deputy Chief Minister. The coalition government from the beginning was a precarious one. The KLP withdrew itssupport to the Prakasam Ministry, on the issue of location of the capital. The location ofcapital at Kurnool in Rayalaseema region was looked upon as a victory for the dominantReddi caste, some of whose leadership was emerging as a cohesive political group within theCongress party. Prakasam Ministry could not survive for more than a year. If fell inNovember 1954 after a motion of no-confidence on the issue of prohibition, supported by thecommunists, the KLP and the PSP members, was carried by a majority of one vote. The mid-term elections in Andhra were held in February 1955. It turned out to be a‘critical election’ in Andhra political history. On the eve of the election the Communist partywas confident to form the next Ministry in the State. Sensing the danger and the strength ofthe Communist party and given the experience of the 1952 elections, when the Communistscould win a large number of seats due to the division of the Congress vote, the Congressleaders realized the need for consolidating all the forces opposed to communists. TheCongress could forge an electoral alliance with the KLP and the Praja Party to form UnitedCongress Front. On the other hand, communists, due to overestimation of their electoralprospects and doctrinaire attitudes, failed to forge an alliance with either the splinter groupsof the Congress party or the PSP. While all the anti-communist forces formed a powerfularray, the communists had ideologically outdistanced themselves from other political partiesand groups and this proved to be disastrous to the communists and highly advantageous to theCongress party. The Congress leaders also launched a virulent attack on the communists aspresenting a danger to family, private property and democracy. The socialist orientation ofthe policies of the Congress party, the impact of some agrarian reforms and praise the
17socialist Soviet leadership showered on the Congress all put together had taken the wind outof the sails of the Communist party. The grand strategy of the Congress party paid very well, as it secured a decisive majorityof 119 seats on its own, with about 40 per cent of vote. Out of a total 196 seats the UnitedCongress Front won 146 seats with an aggregate vote of about 52 per cent. The communistsgot a paltry 15 seats although they secured about 31 per cent vote (Table 1). The election tooka heavy toll of other parties: all the candidates fielded by the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS), 18of the 45 PSP candidates and more than two-thirds (111 of 162) of the independents lost theirdeposits. Paradoxically, the Communist party polled more votes than earlier, both in absoluteterms and in terms of percentage, but lost a good number of seats. It lost heavily in its stronghold of coastal districts such as Godavaris, Krishna, Guntur and Nellore. The rout of theCommunist party and the debacle of other parties enabled the Congress to emerge as thedominant party in the region. Thus the results of mid-term elections indicated the onset of anew era of Congress dominance.Politics in Telengana Region: 1947-56 Before its merger the Hyderabad State, officially called the Dominion of His ExaltedHighness the Nizam of Hyderabad, was the largest of all the princely States in British India,and comprised of three linguistic sub-regions of Telengana (Telugu speaking), Marathwada(Marathi speaking), and Karnataka (Kannada speaking). What was started in the early 1920sas a campaign to promote Telugu language and culture in the Telugu-speaking areas of theHyderabad State got gradually transformed by 1930s into an effective mass-based, peasantoriented forum for the articulation of the demands of the Telugu population of Telengana. By1937, the Andhra Maha Sabha (Andhra Conference) became strong enough to demandresponsible government in Hyderabad. The Hyderabad State Congress was formed in 1938. Ittried to link the popular democratic movement in Hyderabad with the larger nationalmovement for independence. Around the same time, a Muslim organization, Majlis-i-Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen (MIM) –association for Muslim unity – had emerged on the political scene, advocating theestablishment of a Muslim dominion in Hyderabad as a permanent arrangement. The Majliswas supported by the Muslim elite – Ministers, bureaucrats, professionals and courtiers of theNizam. Its para-military wing, the Razakars, joined the Nizam’s army and the police, whichunleashed a reign of terror against the communists and the AMS activists as well as someCongress sections, who were fighting for the liberation of Hyderabad from the Nizam’s rule. The communists tried to radicalize the movement, by taking up the questions of tenancyrights, forced labour, and the oppressive regime of the Nizam and the feudal lords. By 1945the communist had captured the leadership of the AMS and increased mass support to theirprogramme of land reform and anti-Nizam struggle. They took to armed struggle andestablished parallel government in parts of Telengana, what was known as raat-ki-sarkar(rulers at night). Communists declared about 4000 villages as liberated, occupied thegovernment lands, abolished forced labour, imposed land ceilings (a ceiling limit of 200acres) and distributed the surplus lands to the tenants and poorer sections (Sundarayya, 1972).When the Nizam’s State was tottering under the blows of the communists, the Indian militaryentered the Hyderabad State in September 1948 and without much resistance capturedHyderabad, within five days. Hyderabad State was merged into the Indian Union.Immediately the jagirdari system was abolished, ceiling on land ownership was imposed and
18the cultivators were given proprietary right on their land. Similarly, a tenancy Act gaveprotection to the tenants (Khusro, 1958). The communists continued their armed struggle against the Indian government, despiteserious differences among the leaders whether to continue the armed struggle in the changedcircumstances. In the process the Communist party suffered immense losses as hundreds ofits activists were killed. Although the communists failed in realizing their objective ofestablishing a ‘people’s state’ in Hyderabad, the impact of communist movement onTelengana society and politics was immense. It brought about a new awareness among thepeople, especially the oppressed sections of the society. The land reform policies introducedby the government during 1948-50 in Telengana, which were regarded as the most bold andprogressive ones at that time in India, could be understood as a result of and a response to themilitant agrarian struggles waged by the communists. After the integration of Hyderabad into the Indian Union, the Congress had emerged as thebiggest political party in the Hyderabad State. In the 1952 elections in Hyderabad, theCongress entered the electoral arena as the party that had ushered in democracy in Hyderabadand freed the oppressed people from the shackles of the feudal Raj. The Communist party,which was banned since the launch of armed struggle, did not contest the elections underparty name, although on the eve of elections most of its leaders were released form theprison. It fought the elections under the banner of the People’s Democratic Front (PDF),which won 42 out of 78 seats it contested. The Congress, with better organization and supportof the Central leadership secured a clear majority in Hyderabad State by capturing 93 out ofthe 173 seats it contested. However, if we take Telengana region alone it did not get majority,but emerged only as the single largest party (Table 1). In Telengana region the communistshad emerged as a strong force with 37 seats (30.75% vote) against 44 seats (38.85%) for theCongress. As the Congress captured an absolute majority in Hyderabad State Assembly, itformed the first popular Ministry in March 1952, with Ramakrishna Rao as the CM. HisMinistry continued in office till the merger of Telengana with Andhra to constitute the Stateof Andhra Pradesh. On the formation of Andhra Pradesh on 1st November 1956, Neelam Sanjiva Reddybecame the first CM of the enlarged State. A combined Legislative Assembly with 103MLAs from Telengana region and 194 MLAs of the Andhra Legislative Assembly came intoexistence. The party position in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly at the time of theState formation was Congress-163, Communist-51, PSP-24, KLP-22, Praja Party-5, SCF-3,and Independents-29. While the creation of Andhra Pradesh had ended one type offactionalism, especially among the Brahman leaders, it paved the way to a new type offactionalism. Sanjiva Reddy tried to accommodate diverse factional, regional, caste andcommunal groups in the Ministry. But with five Reddis finding place in his Cabinet a newphase of Reddi domination began in State politics. Within a few months of the formation of the State, once again there was a trial of strengthbetween the Congress and the Communist parties in the second General Elections in 1957.The dominance of the Congress party became amply clear when it won 35 out of the 42 seatswith about 52 per cent of vote (Table 2). There was a perceptible increase in the Congressvote in the districts that were earlier considered to be the strongholds of the Communist party,such as Nalgonda, Warangal, Khammam, Karimnagar and Medak. Thus election results tiltedin favour of the Congress, making its position more stable in the Legislature and outside.They signalled the beginning of a new era of Congress dominance in State politics. The
19communists never recovered from this blow, although they continued for some more time asa major party in the State. Thus, we find from the time of independence to the formation of the larger State of AndhraPradesh, Telengana and Andhra people passed through a period of rapid political changes,full of diverse possibilities and uncertainties. While the ground was prepared for the eventualmerger of the two regions in 1956, the seeds of most of the political trends and intricateproblems that cropped up later were sown during this period. Several political processes thatwere set into motion during that time are still unfolding and several dilemmas of that periodare yet to be resolved, although their intensity and importance vary from time to time andtheir political manifestations take different forms. IV The Era of Congress Dominance, 1957-1982 For nearly two decades after the formation of the State the Congress party remaineddominant in State politics, as it won all the elections held for the Parliament and LegislativeAssembly in the State since 1957. Even when the ‘Congress system’ was breaking downelsewhere during the 1960s, especially when the non-Congress parties formed governmentsin several States in 1967, AP remained the ‘citadel’ of the Congress party. Whatever thethreats that it encountered came from factions within, often taking the toll of the incumbentChief Ministers, without either posing a challenge to the Congress dominance in the State orthe central leadership. Its ‘retentive capacity’ proved to be very high, as the party was able toretain different factions and groups in the party fold, often by the intervention of the centralleadership. The period also witnessed a further decline in the strength of the strength of thecommunists. Other parties could not develop in a way to constitute an alternative to theCongress and as such remained at ‘periphery’. This was also the period during which theCongress had emerged as a ‘catch-all’ party, with an overflow of electoral support. However,the decline of the Congress had set in by late 1970s as the negative side of factionalism beganto reveal itself. Sections hitherto supported the party began to opt for other parties and thetraditional non-Congress elements began look for an alternative, paving the way for theemergence of a regional party. The present section deals with some of these aspects. The consolidation of the Congress party began with the emergence of the State itself. Likein other States, it had certain advantages as the party that led the freedom struggle, of havingwell-educated, experienced and highly respected leadership and a well-developedorganization in all regions of the State. By mid 50s the party acquired an image of aprogressive one trying to restructure the society on socialistic lines, without destroying theprivate enterprise and individual liberties. The impact of reservations in education,employment and politics began to be slowly felt. The integration of Andhra and Telenganaregions led to a preponderance of Reddis in power structure, who became the mainstay of theCongress party in the State for decades to come. The introduction of the three-tieredpanchayati raj system in AP – Gram Panchayat, Panchayati Samithi, and Zilla Parishad – in1959 further strengthened the Congress hold in the rural areas. The ‘democraticdecentralization’ provided fresh avenues of power and prestige to the rural elites. Theyutilized government machinery, resources and patronage in exercising control andcommanding loyalty from the lower classes. Factional networks were built right from thevillage to Samithi to district and to State level. These rival factions within the Congress party
20became crucial in Congress functioning ((Gray, 1963; Venkatarangaiah and Ram Reddy,1967; Ram Reddy, 1977). Unlike several other States, AP did not have a ‘supreme leader’ at the State level, in thesense of one who could authoritatively take decisions in organizational and governmentalmatters and who enjoys an overwhelming following in the general public. The stature of mostof the leaders, who played some role in the freedom struggle and politics later, was on acomparable level. This led to multiple power centres within the Congress party. Just at a timewhen Sanjiva Reddy’s hold on the government and party appeared to be solid, he waspersuaded by Jawaharlal Nehru to take over the Congress presidentship in January 1960. Thathad reopened the doors of factional struggle in the APCC once again (Rasheeduddin Khan,1969: 45). There was division in the State Congress on choosing successor to Sanjiva Reddy. Finallythe choice fell on D. Sanjeevaiah, a young and energetic dalit leader from Rayalaseema. Hewas the first dalit to become CM of a State in India. Among the reasons advanced for hiscandidature for the position of CM, one was that as a dalit at the helm of affairs he wouldneutralize or slowly erode the communist influence among the weaker sections, especially theMalas and the Madigas, and bring these numerically large social groups closer to theCongress party. In pursuance of this strategy, which also suited him to promote his ownpopularity, Sanjeevaiah began to woo the ‘weaker sections’ through several means. In May1961 his government issued orders providing for 25 per cent of reservation of seats ineducational institutions and jobs in government services to the socially and educationallybackward classes or the OBCs (a euphemism for backward castes). While the programmesinitiated by Sanjeevaiah were generally welcomed, they also led to resentment among theforward caste leaders, who formed a strong opposition within the Congress in the name of‘Unity Group’. The organizational wing was dominated by forward caste leaders and itcreated friction between the ‘organizational’ and ‘ministerial’ wings of the party. However, itcan be said that the policies of Sanjeevaiah government helped in the gradual building of apowerful and reliable support structure for the Congress among the lower castes, whoconstituted the bulk of the population in the State and accounted for an overwhelmingmajority of the proletariat (Elliot, 1970: 166). During this period the Congress had to contend with a new all-India political party, theSwatantra party (Party for Independence), which came into existence in 1959. N.G. Ranga,one time a popular leader of Andhra and a known champion of peasants’ interests, resignedthe position of secretary to the Congress party in Parliament, to become one of its founderleaders and its chairman. Ranga had been a strong opponent and a bitter critic of communistpolitics in the State. The Swatantra party in AP provided a platform to those opposedcommunism and also the socialist-oriented policies of the Congress, that it feared wouldresult in too many state controls putting restrictions on individual liberties and privateinitiative thus impeding economic progress and social well-being in the long run. Swatantraparty was frankly conservative and emerged as the authentic ‘right’ party. It favoured freeand private enterprise and protection of peasant interests. However, belying its expectations,there was no exodus from the Congress into it. Nor it was able to attract non-Congress, non-communist elements as it was expected to do in 1959. Thus, in 1962 elections the Congress faced two major opponents – the communists on theleft and the Swatantra on the right, justifying its characterization as a centrist party. For thefirst time, after the State formation, Assembly elections were held in the entire State. In theelections the Congress polled 47.4 per cent of votes winning 177 seats out of a total of 300.
21The communists faced the elections with an obvious handicap due to the newly demonstratedbelligerence of China and the consequent divisions in the party. The equivocal stand of theleft wing of the CPI, known as the pro-China wing, made an adverse impact on the agitatednationalist mind. There was a sharp decline in their vote – a drop of 10 percentage pointscompared to the earlier elections (from 29 per cent to 19 per cent), although they could winmore number of seats (51). It emerged as the single largest party after the Congress, ahead ofthe Swatantra. The Swatantra party won 19 seats (nine from Rayalaseema, seven fromCircars and only three from Telengana) accounting for 10.4 per cent votes (Table 1). Oneimportant feature of this election was the elimination of socialist parties, which played animportant role in State politics earlier. The combined vote of Samyukta Socialists and PrajaSocialists was below one per cent. All but one of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh’s 70 candidateslost deposits. During the period between the third and fourth General Elections India witnessedmomentous political changes in the country at large. The Chinese aggression, Nehru’sdemise, split in the Communist party and war against Pakistan came one after the other inquick succession. Among these, the first three had great impact on the State politics. Theleadership vacuum created by Nehru’s death was sought to be filled by a groups of seniorCongress leaders (known as the ‘Syndicate’) consisting of some strongmen of different majorStates, which included Sanjiva Reddy from AP. It made the factional fights more virulent inthe State. The split in the CPI into a moderate wing (CPI) and an extremist wing (CPM) had farreaching consequences to AP politics. The reasons for the split in the communist movementat the international and national levels are well known. While the ideological controversiesand differences over strategy and tactics have their own place in the split, the relativestrengths of two factions differed from State to State due to specific situation that prevailed indifferent States. What distinguished AP from other States, as far as the split was concerned,was that the party was split almost vertically, both claiming to be the legitimate successors ofthe undivided party. Compared to the communist pyramid with rigid and centrally controlledparty structure, which does not allow dissenting factions to survive in the party or tolerateinternal opposition to the ‘party line’, the Congress party, with its loose organizationalstructure approximating the ‘stratarchy’ as described by Eldersveld, appeared to be moredemocratic. It had been more flexible, open and accommodative to diverse interests anddivergent views. It allowed one faction to dominate the scene for some time and anotherfaction at some other time. It did not close doors for dissidents, allowing them to functionwithin, unless some one in sheer frustration leaves the party on his own. On the other hand the ‘rightist’ Swatantra party also could never become a strong politicalforce in the State. It proved to be no match to the Congress in playing the caste and regionalfactors to build up support. It could not make use of the situation arising from the factionaltroubles in the Congress or the split in the Communist movement to strengthen itself.Although initially some regarded Swatantra as the ‘real opponent’ to the Congress, it couldnot increase its sphere of influence beyond some parts of Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra.Virtually it was a non-entity in Telengana. As time went on there were more defections fromthis party into the Congress. The party in AP mainly articulated the grievances and demandsof the rural land owning classes even as much of its support base consisted of rural richpeasantry and large landowners. The party leaders openly declared that theirs was a peasantparty. Precisely because of its ‘kulak’ character, it found it difficult to mobilize the support ofagricultural workers and marginal peasants. In fact, the party activities in AP appeared to beat variance with its all India stance to promote market economy and private enterprise. For
22instance, the party in AP vehemently fought against the proposed land ceilings andchallenged the State government to bring such laws on urban property, business, employeesand industrialists. The bias towards agriculturists and opposition to accumulation of wealth inurban classes had adverse impact on the growth of the party. Another important problem forthe Swatantra was that the Congress leaders too hailed from a similar background as theSwatantra’s and they too claimed to stand for the protection and promotion of peasants’interests. The 1967 elections were held in the wake of a mass agitation in Andhra region for locatinga steel plant at Visakhapatnam, under consideration at that time by the Central government,(Jatkar, 1979). The Anglo-American consortium, in its experts’ report, felt thatVisakhapatnam could be a suitable place for that and the Union Ministry of Steel hadaccepted it. However, other States such as Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and Mysore too broughtpressure to set up steel plants there. Fears grew among Andhras that the location might bechanged to appease other State leaders doing injustice to the State in the matter ofindustrialization. In July 1965 the AP Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution for thesteel plant at Visakhapatnam during the Fourth Five-year Plan period. Sanjiva Reddy, who was the Union Minister for Steel, accused his opponent and the CMof AP, Bramhananda Reddy, of fomenting unrest in the State by whipping up popularemotions over the steel plant issue. What he meant was that the agitation was aimed toembarrass and defame him. Members of the Bramhananda Reddy (CM) group openlyaccused that Sanjiva Reddy failed to stand by the decision to set up steel plant in Andhra. Theagitation gradually gathered momentum and by October-November 1966 it turned militant.There were two aspects to this agitation. It reflected the anxiety as well as desire of thepeople to secure a proper share of public investment in industries in the country, because thegovernment was the largest investor in this field and a feeling that government would notyield unless popular pressure was brought on it. Secondly, it also reflected the power strugglebetween the rival groups in the Congress. The opposition parties tried to take advantage ofthe troubled situation by moving a no-confidence motion against the State government for itsmishandling of the steel plant issue. As a climax 67 MLAs of opposition parties (31 CPI, 20CPM, and eight Swatantra, two National Democrats, one SSP and five independents)resigned their membership of the Assembly in November 1966, just on the eve of the 1967general elections. But the opposition parties became mutually suspicious of each other. Eachof them did not want to see the other to gain in strength. The eagerness of opposition partiesin the State to strike at both the ruling Congress and rival opposition parties simultaneouslydamaged the prospects of opposition unity against the ruling party. The Congress won the election with a comfortable majority (Tables 1 & 2). The resultshowed that the Congress in AP, despite the open factional rivalries, was going strong whenit was losing ground in several other Indian States all over the country. The loss of Congressdominance in other States was due to the desertion of some sections, the consolidation ofnon-Congress forces under a single regional party (such as DMK in Tamil Nadu) or the unityof the non-Congress parties. In AP, however, neither of these factors was at work. Politicalanalysts and commentators spoke of Andhra Pradesh as the bastion of Congress hegemony inthe South. The combined strength of the communists came down from 51 in 1962 to a mere 20 in1967 elections. They were involved in their own fratricidal struggles. Together they couldwin only four seats in the coastal delta districts. While the CPI polled more votes than theCPM in 10 districts, the latter polled more votes in exactly same number of districts than the
23former. They were virtually decimated in their erstwhile strongholds. The final outcome wasthat the communists lost the position of main opposition to the Swatantra party, lost asizeable proportion of popular vote and many of its top leaders were defeated. The decline ofcommunist strength in AP was in contrast to the increase in the Left vote in other StateAssemblies and Union Parliament. Bharatiya Jana Sangh was successful for the first time tosend three of its party men to the Assembly. However, 69 out of its 80 candidates lost theirdeposits. Its popular support was as low as 2.1 per cent. It bore the character of an urban highcaste (especially the Vysyas) oriented party banking upon the Hindu vote. Socialist partieswere virtually wiped out. The period between 1969 and 1973 witnessed two massive and violent agitations, oneafter the other, with a demand for separate Statehood, first in Telengana and then in Andhraregion (Gray, 1971; Seshadri, 1970; Gray, 1974; Acharya, 1979b). The impetus andleadership for both the separatist agitations came not from the opposition parties but from the‘dissident’ factions of the Congress. These two agitations are classic examples of how thedisgruntled leaders in the ruling and dominant party could put the regional identity and asense of injustice that prevails among the people of a region to political use. The way theseseparatist agitations arose and experienced a sudden death also reveal the inner dynamics ofCongress party politics. What started as an agitation in Khammam district by a small group of students andemployees for ‘safeguarding’ domicile rules for employment in Telengana region, soonsnowballed into a major agitation spread over several districts. By early 1969 the TelenganaPraja Samithi (TPS) was established by a group of young lawyers, teachers and journalists,which set itself the task of coordinating activities of Telengana students and non-gazettedofficers (NGOs) in the State service. A feeling was generated that people from Andhra regionwere dominating in Telengana, cornering larger share of employment and growing rich inHyderabad City and around. The Telengana region and its people were discriminated by thegovernment and that the development of Telengana was possible only if it was a separateState, the leaders argued. Initially there were no professional politicians in the agitation.Shortly thereafter, Konda Lakshman resigned from the AP State Ministry and associatedhimself with the TPS. Channa Reddy, who was biding his time after he was forced to resignfrom the Union Ministry following a Supreme Court decision making his election in 1967invalid (due to malpractices), declared himself in favour of a separate State for Telengana andbecame the top leader of the TPS. He nursed a grievance against Bramhananda Reddy thatthe latter did not come to his rescue, when he was entangled in legal problems. A separateTelengana Congress Committee was formed including some Congress MLAs fromTelengana. In May-June 1969 there were clashes between police and demonstrators with police firingon the processions. The NGOs went on an indefinite strike, paralyzing district administration.Students boycotted colleges and universities. No harm was done to non-Andhra businessmenand settlers in Hyderabad. Large sums of money came form different interested groups tosustain the movement. The CM, Bramhananda Reddy, and the central leadership of theCongress stood firmly against bifurcation of the State. The leaders of the TPS began todemand the resignation of the CM, and his replacement by a Telengana Congressman. Morethan the safeguards and separate State, this demand later became more important. Thecommunist parties opposed the agitation describing it as diversionary, misguided and misled.A majority of Muslims remained indifferent, fearing that Telengana Hindus were morecommunal minded than the Andhras (Gray, 1971: 471). Even a majority of the CongressMLAs from Telengana were not in favour of separate State.
24 The fears of some in the TPS that the taking over of the movement by professionalpoliticians would mean that it would be used in the Congress factional struggles came true.By August 1969, the agitation began to wear out. Channa Reddy and others sent sufficientindications that they would reconcile if Bramhananda Reddy was asked to go. Interestinglyboth the factions in AP State Congress, opposing and spearheading the separate Telenganaagitation, stood by the side of Indira Gandhi when the Congress was split in November 1969.In the 1971 (March) mid-term elections to Parliament the Congress headed by Mrs. Gandhisecured a landslide victory in Andhra region. But the popularity of the TPS became evidentwhen it emerged victorious in 10 out of 14 seats in Telengana region. The High Command,wanting the TPS leaders to come back to the Congress fold, conceded some of the demandsof the TPS, including the removal of Bramhananda Reddy from CMship. As a result the TPSmerged with the Congress in August 1971. After consultations, PV Narasimha Rao, a leaderfrom Telengana without any factional affiliation, but highly loyal to Mrs. Gandhi, hademerged as the choice and became the first CM of AP from Telengana region on September30, 1971. Thus the ruling Congress party was able to reabsorb a section of its leadership whohad gone out of the party, to retain its electoral base, and to prevent the emergence of a rivalparty. While the opposition parties, which were expected to launch agitations and createembarrassing situations to the ruling party, appeared defensive and lackadaisical, thedissident Congress leaders took the credit of guiding and leading the agitation which led tothe downfall of the Congress Ministry. The continued dominance of the Congress reached its zenith in the 1972 AP Assemblyelections (Table 1). As part of Mrs. Gandhi strategy to undercut the dominance of theintermediary State leaders hailing from upper castes, the party wanted to give more seats to‘weaker sections’ in the name of restructuring the party leadership in the State. It createdsome psychological impact on the electorate. The number of women (26) and Muslims (10)legislators elected on Congress tickets had gone up. However, there was no significantincrease in the backward caste representatives (Bernstorff, 1973). The performance of theopposition parties touched a new low and all of them put together polled only 15.6 per centvotes and won 11 seats. However, what was significant was the large percentage of votespolled and seats secured by independents, although much of it was attributed to the rebelCongress candidates and internal opposition within the Congress. Following the 1972 Assembly elections PV Narasimha Rao again became the ChiefMinister. There were objections to his reappointment from other aspirants, but once theCentre’s wishes were made known he was ‘unanimously’ elected as leader by the Congresslegislature wing. A feeling of resentment had gained in Andhra region that the Congressleadership was trying to appease the Telengana people since separate Telengana agitation,ignoring the rightful interests of the Andhras. The students, youth and employees felt thatthey were deprived of opportunities in education and employment, even in State capital. Thespark that ignited the brewing discontent in Andhra was the Supreme Court judgment on 3rdOctober 1972 upholding Mulki rules as legally valid (under the Mulki rules – rules ofresidency in force in the Nizam’s Hyderabad State – no person could be appointed to asuperior or subordinate service of the State if he had not been a permanent resident of theHyderabad State for at least 15 years). While it was welcomed in the Telengana region, students in Andhra reacted swiftly to thejudgment by organizing meetings and strikes with a demand to scrap the Mulki rules if theintegrity of the State should be preserved. Total strikes (bandh) were organized and theAndhra NGOs went on an indefinite strike. At the State level the relations between Andhraand Telengana ministers deteriorated and they began to meet in separate regional groupings.
25The agitation got escalated as the Jana Sangh, Swatantra, some dissident Congress leadersand independents rallied together with a demand for separate Andhra. Supporters of PValleged that the movement was led by vested interests and landlords, as they were threatenedby the ‘progressive’ land reforms initiated by the PV government (Gray, 1974). But it isdifficult to say how far the land reform policies were responsible for the agitation. As in thecase of Telengana agitation the communists opposed bifurcation of the State, as they saw theproblem arising essentially due to imbalances in development between the two regions. Theycharacterized the agitation as reactionary since, according to them, it was launched to servethe interests of landlords and businessmen. However, the splinter naxalilte groups supportedboth the agitations. There were a series of meetings between the PM and the leaders fromAndhra and Telengana. A new formula was worked out rendering the continuance of Mulkirules unnecessary. PV resigned as part of the package as Mrs. Gandhi chose J. Vengala Rao(a Velama from Telengana region but a migrant from coastal Andhra, who was morefavourably inclined towards the Kammas and Andhras) as CM in December 1973. The two regional movements had demonstrated the strength of regional identities in Statepolitics. They had cut across caste divisions. The Reddi leaders of Telengana and Andhrafought against each other. They also showed that emotional integration between the people ofAndhra and Telengana had not been brought about. They also proved that when two regionswith unequal development were brought together, the people in the relatively backwardregion would develop a tendency to complain of ‘injustice’ and ‘neglect’. It was through theslogans of fighting against ‘injustice’, ‘neglect’ and ‘discrimination’ the emerging eliteswould seek to promote their self-interest. It is difficult to estimate the extent of the role ofenvy, jealousy and resentment in the separatist agitations. The dissident factions in theCongress in both the regions fanned these feelings with a motive to secure political powerthemselves. The same leaders, who vowed to sacrifice their lives in the cause of separateState, found no difficulty, immediately after the agitations, to become Ministers in theCongress government. They left the people bewildered and frustrated with their politicalmaneuvres. Another movement that attracted the attention of people during the 1970s in AndhraPradesh was the movement by ‘communist revolutionaries’, popularly known as Naxalitemovement, named after the abortive uprising of the peasants of Naxalbari area in WestBengal. Those who split away from the CPI to form the CPM in 1964 accused the CPIleadership, which was in control of the party, that it became revisionist and abandoned therevolutionary path. After the split some front rank leaders of the CPM, a large number ofthem being from Andhra Pradesh, inspired by the ‘China path’, felt that the Communist partyshould immediately wage an armed struggle to overthrow the Indian state as it stoodthoroughly exposed and the Indian masses were ready to wage an armed struggle. However,national leaders of the CPM maintained that armed struggle was not the only means availableto the communists in India in bringing about the revolution, although such a struggle mightbecome necessary to capture power in the crucial stages. As a result fissures developedwithin the CPM leaders and cadres. The ‘revolutionaries’ accused the CPM leadership fortrying to put chains on the revolutionary spirit of the people and termed it as ‘neo-revisionistbetrayal’. Once again the CPM was vertically split in the State in 1967. Those sections who left theCPM were temporarily united under the Andhra Pradesh Coordination Committee ofCommunist Revolutionaries (APCCCR), with an aim to launch a ‘new democratic revolution’against the semi-colonial and semi-feudal state headed by ‘comprador bourgeoisie’. Theycalled themselves Marxist-Leninists, although their guiding philosophy was Maoism.
26However, differences soon cropped up among them on the strategy, tactics and timing of thearmed struggle that further led to several splits within splits. One group led an armed strugglein Srikakulam district, primarily in tribal areas, which was hailed as ‘Yenan of India’ by theCPI(ML), with an aim to ‘seize’ state power. The armed struggle could not be sustained forlong. Another group tried to conduct armed struggle in Telengana area, but with little success(Mohan Ram, 1969; Shanta Sinha, 1979). They had to face severe repression by the state forseveral years, during which hundreds of their leaders and activists were killed, often in fakeencounters. However, as a result of the girijan struggles led by the Naxalites, the governmentbrought in legislation to protect the interest of the girijans and also introduced welfare anddevelopmental schemes meant for them. Although the Congress lost heavily in the crucial Lok Sabha elections held after the end of‘Emergency’ period in March 1977 in most of the States, the party stood its ground in AP bywinning 41 out of 42 seats in the State. While the Congress could secure only 34.5 per cent ofthe total votes polled in the country, in AP surprisingly it could secure 57.4 per cent votes(Table 2). Interestingly this was higher by two per cent than the votes it secured in the 1971elections, held at the height of Mrs. Gandhi popularity. For the first time the oppositionparties, except the communists, gave up their separate identities and came together to fightunder one symbol. The significant aspect of the election was that the Janata party secured 35per cent of vote, though it could win only one seat – that of Nandyala by Sanjiva Reddy. The defeat of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha elections in the country led someCongress stalwarts in the State to believe that it was a sinking ship. When Mrs. Gandhi splitthe party in January 1978 and declared it as the real Indian National Congress under herpresidentship there was a split in the State unit too majority of the senior leaders of the partychose to remain with the ‘official’ Congress led by Bramhananda Reddy. The APCCleadership also rejected Mrs. Gandhi’s new Congress party, describing its formation as‘illegal, unconstitutional and dictatorial, aimed at destroying collective leadership andestablishing personality cult.’ Channa Reddy was one prominent leader who played animportant role in the formation of Indira Congress in AP. Within a month of the formation of the new Congress party, elections were held to the APLegislative Assembly in February 1978. These elections became crucial because they wereseen as a test to judge the claims of the rival Congress parties (Acharya, 1979). To survivethey had to demonstrate their electoral strength. A good number of fresh candidates couldenter the fray as there was dearth of candidates for the Congress(I). There were mostlytriangular contests as the Congress (R) and Janata parties contested separately. TheCongress(I) won an absolute majority of seats (175 out of 294) in the elections, while theJanata party got 60 and the Congress (R) 30 (Table 1). The resilience of the Congress party could be seen from the fact that the same ChannaReddy who led the violent agitation not long ago for a separate Telengana State became theCM. For the first time a strange situation had arisen where the Congress was out of power atthe Centre and the State unit was in power. However, the Congress victory in the mid-termelections in 1980 changed the equation between the High Command and the leader of theCongress Legislature Party in the State. AP had the distinction of having four CMs during thetenure of the same legislature (1978-82), though the ruling party enjoyed a comfortablemajority throughout. Congress governments were pulled down not by the opposition parties,which generally happens in any parliamentary democracy, but by their own party men thattoo with the blessings of the party’s central leadership. The main difficulty for the new CM incomposing his Cabinet was in dropping some of the senior Ministers in the earlier Cabinet.
27Most of the senior Ministers belonged to what in Andhra political parlance came to be knownas the ‘headquarters quota’, meaning that they owe Ministership to their direct contacts withthe High Command. The CM had to seek Centre’s permission for every change in hisMinistry. He had to fight in the initial months with the dissident factions to settle down andlater to placate them and the central leadership so that he would not be eased out of hisposition. During the period 1978-82 the democratic principle of electing the CM by the legislatorswas totally ignored. Deputing an observer to find out from the legislators their choice becamea shallow democratic exercise. All the CMs during Mrs. Gandhi’s time asserted in their daysthat the High Command was not interested in replacing them. Still they found all around themopinion gathering for their ouster beginning with a whispering campaign, snowballing into adissident struggle, finally assuming the dimensions of a major political crisis shaking thefoundations of their governments. Since Mrs. Gandhi became the sole factor in the Congress,with power in the party and government was highly centralized, most of the State leadersturned into sycophants. It led the factions in the party to resort to all kind of means to impressupon the High Command about their influence in the State. The preoccupation of the State leaders in the game of changing the CMs and party leadersmade them insensitive to the problems of the people and the State. The factional divisions inthe State, which were often abetted by the central leadership, proved to be a problem as theirnumber became too many. It was not easy to keep the delicate balance between factions inand out of power, with too many leaders aspiring for ‘coveted posts’. Scant respect forpolitical values, erosion of inner-party democracy, destruction of local leadership with someamount of self-respect and extreme cynicism in party politics, all combined to widen the gulfbetween the Congress and the people. The State began to slip away from the Congress rule.More than the policies of the government, the disgusting factional politics and farcicaldevelopments in the party were primarily responsible for the electoral collapse of theCongress in Andhra Pradesh in 1983. V Emergence of the Telugu Desam Party: Politics of Populism and Confrontation The emergence of the Telugu Desam party (TDP) brought radical changes in the structureof politics in the State. Increasing dissatisfaction among the people towards the Congressstyle of functioning, its all-round decay and the inability of the national opposition parties,both liberal and communist, to present a viable political and electoral alternative to theCongress provided a fertile ground for the birth and growth of a regional party in the State.The launching of a new political party on March 29, 1982 by the sixty-year-old Madras basedmulti-millionaire cine star, NT Rama Rao, who was popularly called NTR, heralded a newera in State politics. The regional party did not born out of any sustained movement or struggle, like that ofAkali Dal in Punjab or National Conference in Jammu & Kashmir, or any sustained socialmovement like the DMK in Tamil Nadu. It is not entirely true to say that TDP becamesuccessful because of NTR’s cine popularity among the AP electorate. The explanation liessomewhere else. In AP politics the non-Congress/anti-Congress opposition vote was alwayssubstantial, with different parties and independents in the electoral fray securing aconsiderable percentage of votes in the Assembly elections held prior to 1983. Most of the
28leaders of the erstwhile Swatantra party, Lok Dal, Socialist parties and later the Janata partyjoined the Telugu Desam. The vote bases of these parties got welded together under the nameof the Telugu Desam. Thus the TDP was a unified reincarnation of the hitherto divided anti-Congress vote in AP politics. NTR’s cine popularity was useful to him in the sense that hewas not new to the AP electorate and he used that as an effective means to convey a politicalmessage to them. It fell on receptive ears as the electorate too was looking for an alternative,a leader who can bail out the State from the reckless factionalism, rampant corruption and thepolitical morass into which the State was dragged during the Congress regime during1978-82. The TDP mounted a blistering attack on the Congress and its ‘eunuch’ leadership at theState level and the ‘puppet shows’ constantly staged on the Andhra political theatre. Theparty in its manifesto promised to provide a clean administration and elimination ofcorruption. It would strive to remove the meaningless and unrealistic restrictions onindustrialists and thus attract capital from outside the State and encourage the enterprisingindustrialists inside the State, the party said. The TDP called the Congress pro-merchant andanti-peasant for its failure to give remunerative prices to the agricultural products and tosupply electricity for the peasants at subsidized rates. It totally rejected any proposal ofimposing tax on agricultural income. Regarding the Centre-State relations the TDP said thatIndira Gandhi in her endeavour to perpetuate her family rule over the country graduallytransformed the States into glorified ‘municipalities’. It proclaimed its belief in completefederalism and did not agree with the argument that delegation of more powers to the Stateswould weaken the Centre. It demanded that the Centre should confine itself to the matters ofdefense, foreign affairs, currency and communications. NTR later went to the extent ofsaying that the Centre was a ‘conceptual myth’. Thus the TDP’s proclaimed policies wereoriented to liberal industrial growth and pro-peasant agricultural development. The TDP wassaid to have made good impact on the regional industrialist class and the rich peasantry, whosupported the Congress during the 70s. The TDP also partially took the philosophy of theerstwhile Swatantra party and as a consequence effectively weaned away a large section ofpeasant voters from the Congress and the Janata party. NTR used vituperative language in his speeches with theatrical gestures. He stressed thatthe prestige of Andhra Pradesh was tarnished because the CMs were installed by Delhiinstead of being elected in Hyderabad. He generated a euphoria over the slogans of‘restoration of self-respect of the Telugus’, ‘humiliation of the Telugus by a system ofimposing the CMs from Delhi’, and ‘fight against the inefficient and corrupt administrationof the Congress’. They were combined with some populist schemes, such as providing rice atRs.2 a kg. and mid-day meals for school children, which he borrowed from neighbouringTamil Nadu experience. NTR’s speeches were exhortative and his policies populist. Initiallythe Congress underestimated the significance of the TDP and the crowds drawn towardsNTR. Mrs. Gandhi regarded NTR as no more than a freak phenomenon incapable of posingany sustained political challenge. She scorned NTR as a ‘political joke’ being played in APby one who did not know anything about politics but had entered the electoral fray. SomeCongress leaders tried to isolate NTR as a leader of the Kamma community alone and calledTelugu Desam as ‘Kamma desam’ (party of the kammas). The 1983 elections became a battle between Amma (mother), i.e., Mrs. Gandhi and Anna(elder brother), i.e., NTR. The TDP recorded a landslide victory ending the one partydominance of the Congress party in AP for nearly three decades (Table 3). It secured 46.8 percent of the popular vote and two-thirds of seats in the Assembly. The Congress partyrecorded the lowest percentage of vote (33.6) ever in AP electoral history. In coastal Andhra
29region it was much less (30.8). It got only 20 per cent of seats in the Assembly. Thepercentage of seats was much lower for the coastal Andhra (8%) and Rayalaseema (8%)regions. The left parties, who now entered into an alliance with each other, received adrubbing: CPI got 2.75 per cent votes with 4 seats and CPM 2.07 per cent votes with 5 seats.The elections showed that if a political party, whether regional or national, convinces theelectorate about its ability to form a government by projecting itself as a viable alternative tothe ruling party, it will have a fair chance of capturing political power. It also showed that anegative swing of four to five per cent votes polled by a party leads to a highly adverse resultin terms of its position in the Assembly (Satya Mani, 1985). The Congress party assumed forthe first time in AP the role of the opposition in the Assembly and outside. The Central and State Congress leadership, which had been accustomed to dominate Statepolitics for a long time, could not easily reconcile to the changed realities. It could notestablish a working relationship with the TDP and took a hostile attitude towards the rulingTDP. On his part, NTR too was hostile towards the Congress for his own compulsions andrepeatedly talked of State’s autonomy vis-à-vis the Congress dominated Centre. The TDP andthe Congress naturally held divergent views on the place and role of regional parties in India.NTR decried the continuous propaganda of the Congress party in the State that the regionalparties represent fissiparous tendencies. He said that the Indian Constitution is a federal oneand different parties could come to power in different States through democratic means. Hemaintained that the Congress rule had deprived the States both the authority and the financialcapacity to promote the development of State’s economy and welfare of the people. He saidthat the TDP was a ‘regional party with a national perspective’ and even asserted that aregional party alone was capable of articulating the aspirations of the people. After one and half years of the TDP’s rule the Congress pulled down the NTR’sgovernment in August 1984. The party gave support to the plans of a ginger group within theTDP led by Nadendla Bhaskara Rao to oust the CM from office at a time when he was awayin the US to undergo a heart surgery. Because the Congress party was in power at the Centreit used the office of the Governor for the purpose. The meeting of the seventeen nationalopposition parties, including the CPI, CPI(M), BJP and the Janata, came down heavily on theCongress for indulging in the game of toppling the non-Congress governments and felt thatthe coup d’etat staged in Hyderabad was engineered in Delhi by the PM and the coteriearound her. They launched a ‘Save democracy movement’, which led to a massive anti-Congress and anti-Centre upsurge in the State against the dismissal of the TDP government.NTR called it a dharma yuddham (a war for justice), a war against the authoritarian andautocratic rule at the Centre, for restoration of democracy and safeguarding the Constitution. Thanks to the powerful mass agitation and the force of united opposition, the ‘defectorsgroup’, despite the support of the Congress party, could not muster enough numbers in theAssembly to continue in power. Since the 1984 Lok Sabha elections were round the corner,the Congress leadership wanted to salvage the party’s image to the extent possible. It gave upits efforts to prop up the ‘defectors’ government, called back the Governor, making him ascapegoat, and finally reinstalled the NTR in office. It was the only instance in the politicalhistory of India when a dismissed CM was reinstated. The whole episode proved that ifpeople firmly stand for safeguarding democratic norms, the manipulations of the politicalleadership in weakening the democratic institutions and structures to fulfil personal, factionaland partisan ambitions can be curbed, resisted and even defeated. Though the opposition parties were not able to forge a united front against the Congress atthe national level in the Lok Sabha elections held in December 1984, the TDP in Andhra was
30able to arrive at a bilateral seat adjustment with the non-Congress national opposition parties.Thereafter the TDP and its allies came to be known as ‘friendly parties’. It was remarkablethat they could stem the sympathy wave generated in the country in favour of the Congressafter the assassination of Mrs. Gandhi and handout a miserable defeat to the Congress in theelections. In his election speeches the Congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi harped upon thetheme that the regional parties were harmful to national unity. The TDP countered theCongress’ criticism by saying that it stood for the strengthening of federal political structurein India, which is the spirit of the Constitution. NTR alleged that the Congress, despite itscontinuous rule in the Centre and in several States, was not able to forge unity of the country,as it was responsible for the trouble in Punjab, Assam, Kashmir, etc. He also charged that theCongress that fought for independence under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership died long agoand what remained of the Congress was full of self-seeking, immoral and corrupt politicians. The memory of the people regarding the abortive coup against NTR’s government and thepolitical drama that followed was so fresh and the unity that was witnessed during theagitation for the reinstallation of NTR’s government was so strong that out of 41 seats forwhich polls were held TDP captured 30 seats (44.12% votes) and the friendly oppositionparties – CPI, CPM, BJP and the Janata – got one seat each. The strength of the Congress wasreduced from its earlier number of 41 to a mere six. But it got a substantial vote of 41.8 percent. Mid-term elections to the AP Assembly, caused by the dissolution of the Assembly inNovember 1984, were held in March 1985. The alliance between the major non-Congressopposition parties and the TDP was continued in the Assembly elections. NTR asked thepeople to ‘get rid of the Congress culture and strengthen your self-respect vis-à-vis thearrogant Centre’. The election manifesto issued by the APCC said that the Assemblyelections provided the Telugu people a ‘unique opportunity to join the mainstream of nationallife’. Rajiv Gandhi maintained that regional parties posed a threat to the unity of the countryand advocated the need for the same party to rule both at the Centre and in the States. But theCongress suffered from group rivalries. Also the demoralization caused by successiveelectoral defeats and the collective fear of NTR was so much in the Congress that 22candidates who were allotted its tickets refused to file their nominations. The TDP won 202seats, three more seats than it won in the 1983 elections. The Congress failed to retain itsstrength, which it had in the dissolved Assembly (59), and won only 49 seats. But it improvedits percentage of votes from 33.6 per cent in the Assembly elections in 1983 to 37.4 in 1985(Table 3). Its performance was particularly good in Krishna and Guntur districts, whichsolidly stood with the TDP in 1983 and where Kamma concentration was highest in the State. The major casualty in this election was the Democratic Telugu Desam Party (DTDP),formed by Bhaskara Rao, the rebel TDP leader. Except two of its 220 candidates, all of themlost deposits. With this, attempts to reenact the TN model of having two rival regional partiesas alternative contenders for power at the State level were thwarted in AP. The Congresscould have been in trouble had the DTDP became successful in consolidating itself as thesecond regional party on the lines of AIADMK of Tamil Nadu. Commenting on his victory inthe elections, NTR said that the people’s verdict was a mandate to remould the Centre-Staterelations, for strong States in a true federal structure, for a more share in the revenue for theStates and was a slap in the face of corrupt leaders and defectors. The communists also feltthat the Andhra people gave a fitting reply to the Congress argument that the same party rulewas required at both the Central and the State level by defeating the Congress party.
31 During the period 1985-89, the Congress regained the lost ground by attacking the style offunctioning of the TDP supremo, fully exploiting the arbitrary decisions of NTR’sgovernment and taking a hostile opposition towards the TDP (Bhaktavatsalam, 1991).Although the party was routed in the Assembly elections in 1983 and 1985, it still enjoyedconsiderable electoral base in the State. The encouragement given by the Central leadershipof the party, which was in power at the Centre, the patronage available for it to bestow uponthe State leaders and the opportunity to use the institutions of Governor and the judiciary increating embarrassing situations to the ruling party at the State level helped the Congressparty in the State to regain its strength. The TDP-Congress relations showed that in theevolution of a democratic polity in a developing society with too many social cleavages andmutually conflicting economic interests, political parties, especially the main opposition,seems to give less importance to parliamentary conventions and fair means. What becameimportant for the Congress was to recapture power, using any means at the disposal of theparty. Apparently it functioned on the assumption that only hostile opposition pays in a crisis-ridden society. It launched an immediate propaganda offensive against the TD governmentand used every opportunity to put the ruling party in a difficult situation. The very first major policy decision of the TDP government, reducing the retirement ageof government employees from 58 to 55 years without giving them any time to mentallyreconcile with the decision or chance to appeal against the decision, sparked off a prolongedconfrontation between the NGOs, who numbered more than 4,00,000 and constitute astrategic section in the society, and the government. For the first time the governmentemployees were subjected to scathing criticism by a leader no less than the CM. He criticizedthem for becoming anti-people and corrupt, terming them as ‘bandicoots in a granary’. TheCongress, which had a majority in the Legislative Council, was able to stall some of thedecisions of the TDP government. The Ordinance intended to reduce the retirement age wasblocked by the Congress in the Legislative Council. As a consequence, the TDP leadershipdecided to get the Legislative Council abolished. The role of the Union Ministers in the State politics of AP acquired significance in raisingirritant issues for the TDP, putting spokes in the functioning of the State government, andbolstering the morale of the State Congress leaders. The relations between the Stategovernment and the Union Ministers, acting as the spokesmen of the Congress party, wascharacterized by diatribes of the latter against the former, as they exhorted the Congressmento launch a ‘liberation struggle’ against the TD rule and to take the issues to the streets. Therewas a war of statements between the Union Minister from AP, P. Shiva Sankar and the TDPleaders on the subsidy involved in the Rs.2 a kg rice scheme. As the Congress was in power at the Centre, its leaders often threatened the TDPgovernment during 1987-88 with dire consequences such as its dismissal. The belligerenceand aggressiveness of the State Congress leadership to a large measure was inspired by theCentral leadership. The position of Governor, controlled by the Central government, alsocame in handy for them to create trouble to the TDP. The Congress during this periodinfluenced the decisions of the Governor on several occasions. The TDP leaders felt that theactions of the Governor were aimed at embarrassing the ruling party, to strengthen theCongress prospects and to obstruct the government from functioning in order to discredit theruling party. In an unusual and unprecedented way the AP Cabinet passed a Resolutioncensuring the constitutional head of the State government. NTR complained to the Presidentof India that the Governor was violating all the norms by carrying on ‘a relentless campaignof calumny’ against his government.
32 The Congress had also effectively made use of judiciary to invalidate the actions of the TDgovernment and to get strictures passed against key functionaries, including the CM. Ajudgment of a Division Bench of the AP High Court in January 1988, on petitions filed by aleading Bramhan Congress leader in the State, Dronamraju Satyanarayana, put the CM andthe ruling party in an awkward situation. It found prima facie evidence for the abuse ofofficial position by the CM on five counts and opined that the action of the State governmenton two other charges was arbitrary and illegal. Though the way the judgment was given itselfbecame a matter of controversy, the Congress leaders were quick to demand the resignationof the CM. The TDP criticized the Congress for resorting to cantankerous legal actions tonegate the verdict of the people of the State. One important factor in building up an anti-TDP electoral alliance was the caste. It wassuccessfully played by the Congress in its resurgence and search for power. It assigned thetask of rallying different caste people to different castemen in the party. The Congress partyconsolidated its position among the dalits, who had been staunch supporters of the Congressfor the last two decades, since they were weaned away from communist influence in the late1960s. It highlighted, both in Legislature and outside, the atrocities committed on the dalits,especially in the Kamma dominant villages. The Brahmans, who had been the traditionalsupporters of the Congress, once again rallied behind the Congress, by influencing the publicopinion through the means they had at their command. NTR’s policies, such as the abolitionof village officers (most of the village account keepers, called karnams, were Brahmans),abolition of the privileges of the priests to enjoy the monetary offerings to gods at temples,and providing the right for any person, regardless of community, to become priests, wereseen as aimed at breaking the traditional position of the Brahmans in the society. Theseactions, which could be seen as democratic measures, were interpreted as measures to hurtthe Brahman interests. The trading community, consisting of mainly the Komatis, also gotdisaffected with the TDP due to its alleged ‘anti-trader policies’. Since the Reddi elites thinkthat Congress party was theirs, the Congress got overwhelming support from the Reddicommunity. Giving credence to the caste logic, N. Srinivasulu Reddy, one of the top leadersof the TDP and who was considered no.2 in the TDP Ministry, had resigned from the TDPand joined the Congress along with others on the eve of the 1989 Assembly elections. The Congress was successful in breaking off Kapu community from the TDP. The UnionMinister, Shiva Sankar, carried out an intensive campaign to rally the Kapus, Balijas, Ontaris,Munnur Kapus and Telagas (kindred caste groups in AP) against the TDP. In this backgrounddiscord developed between the prominent Kapu leaders of the TDP on the one hand and theCM and his sons-in-law on the other. Chegondi Harirama Jogaiah and MudragadaPadmanabham, important Kapu leaders from Godavari districts, left the TDP to join handswith the Congress Kapu MLA from Vijayawada, V.M. Ranga Rao, in organizing theconference of the Kapus, known as Kapunadu (styled after Mahanadu, the TDP annualconference). The killing of V.M. Ranga Rao, who by that time became a popular Kapu leaderand also a prominent Congress leader, took caste politics to a climax. The scale of casteviolence and arson, targeting the property and assets of the Kammas, which rocked the fourcoastal districts – Guntur, Krishna, West and East Godavaris – following the murder wasunprecedented in the political history of the State. The Congress party made immensepolitical capital out of this murder and received overwhelming support of the Kapus in thecoastal districts in the 1989 elections. In addition the Congress also raised the issue of discrimination of Telengana andRayalaseema regions by the TDP government and NTR, who belonged to the coastal region.The Congress leaders, who had earlier resorted to the resurrection of sub-regional identities in
33order to secure their individual and factional hold on the party and government, this time usedthis card against the TDP government. However, the decline of the TDP electoral base cannot be attributed to the efforts of theCongress alone. Partly it was due to his own making. The style of NTR’s functioning both inthe party and the government alienated individuals and social groups from the TDP. Heregarded himself as the sole leader with no superior or equal or second to him in the party. Hethought himself to be infallible. Often his actions were arbitrary and rash. Some of thepolicies and laws enacted by his government had to be withdrawn immediately after theywere made or struck down by courts. He attacked the Congress for depriving people of self-respect, lack of respect for democratic norms, encouraging the principle of family rule in thecountry, etc. But he encouraged people prostrating before him and touch his feet andbestowed favours on them. He never cared to build a democratic party structure nor to makeit function on any democratic principle. He dismissed all his Ministers in February 1989 justbefore elections and constituted a new Ministry with all new faces. He never allowedelections to the ‘Politburo’, the top decision-making body in the party. Once in publicmeeting at Madanapalli, he announced his actor-son Balakrishna as his successor, but laterdenied this, in the face of severe criticism. All these issues became favourite themes of thosewho opposed the TDP in 1989 Assembly elections. Even those who openly supported NTR inthe initial years gradually got disenchanted with NTR’s style both in the party andgovernment. Several party leaders had either become passive or revolted against NTR or leftthe TDP as they saw in him a highly ‘authoritarian personality’. They raised the issue of lossof self-respect for the leaders and workers in the party. Most of those who left the partyjoined the Congress saying that it was more democratic and responsive to the wishes of thepeople. The decline of electoral support for the TDP and a corresponding increase in the Congressstrength became clear even before the 1989 Assembly elections. The elections to the ZillaPraja Parishads (ZPP) and Mandala Praja Parishads (MPP), created by the TDP government,were held in March 1987. Though the results meant a victory for the TDP (as the TDPbagged 18 out of the 21 ZPPs and 632 out of 1058 MPPs), an analysis of the voting patternindicated the electoral gains of the Congress. The Congress won 42.38 per cent vote and 330MPPs as against 200 expected in proportion to its strength in the Assembly. The poll alsoboosted up the local level party organization as APCC president gave authority to the DCCsto select the candidates, making a break in the tradition of nomination from above. On thecontrary, the TDP’s selection of candidates at Gandipet (headquarters of the party) through acomputer processing caused discontent among the local leaders. Close on the heels of the panchayat elections came elections to as many as 95municipalities and two Municipal Corporations. For the first time the method of directelection for the positions of Municipal chairman and Corporation Mayor on party basis wasintroduced. The results of the civic elections confirmed the growing disenchantment of theurban population with the ruling party. The Congress secured 42.08 per cent votes ascompared to the TDP’s 40.16 per cent votes. The Congress bagged 49 municipalchairmanships and 1292 wards, as against 40 and 948 for the TDP. The Congress won all themunicipalities in the districts of Guntur, Prakasam, Srikakulam and Karimnagar. Congressalso wrested the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation from the CPI and the CPM, whichjointly held sway over the city for the previous five years. If the votes polled by the Congressin the Panchayat and Municipal elections were added, the Congress managed to narrow downthe overall difference between itself and the TDP to a mere 16 lakh votes. It had establishedleads in about 140 out of the 294 Assembly segments, which meant an increase of 90 over its
34tally of 50 in 1985. The outcome of the elections was so reassuring to the Congress that theAPCC president declared that his party was going to triumph in the next elections. Simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and AP Assembly were held in November 1989.Congress recorded impressive victories at both the levels. It won 39 seats in the Lok Sabhawith 49.04 per cent votes while the TDP could win only 2 seats securing 41.58 per cent votes(including the votes polled by the allied parties). Curiously enough the AP electorate, like inthe 1977 Lok Sabha elections, gave a spectacular victory for the Congress, at a time when theelectoral verdict in the country at large went against it. Over time, especially since 1977,Andhra Pradesh electorate had earned the dubious distinction of voting against the nationalpolitical current. In the Assembly elections too the Congress turned the tables against theTDP. It won 182 seats with 47.15 per cent popular vote as against 94 seats won by the TDPand its allies – the CPI, the CPM, the BJP and the Janata Dal – with 43.88 per cent popularvote. On its own the TDP secured 73 seats with 36.6 per cent votes (Table 3). While theCongress improved its electoral support by 9.65 per cent, the TDP lost ground by 9.6 percent. However, the margins of victory either for the Congress or the TDP were not very large;the overall difference in popular vote between the Congress on the one hand and the TDP andits allies on the other was only 3.2 per cent. But the electoral victory for the Congress did notmean a going back to the one-party dominant system that existed prior to the 1980s in AP, assome thought at that time. With the Congress back in power in 1989 factionalism in the party once again came to thefore from 1990. The newly formed Channa Reddy government came under flak from both theopposition TDP and the rival factions of the Congress. The government was accused ofcorrupt practices and the dilution of welfare schemes, especially the subsidized rice scheme.Channa Reddy was held responsible for the deterioration in law and order due to the spurt inNaxalite violence. During his tenure the State was also rocked by anti-Mandal agitation. Thefactional struggle in the party went to the extent that the CM accused the dissident factionleader N. Janardana Reddy for engineering Hindu-Muslim communal riots in Hyderabad inorder to discredit the government. Interestingly the communal violence came to an abrupt endwith the exit of Channa Reddy and Janardan Reddy taking the oath as the CM. Some of the governmental policies and decisions during Janardan Reddy’s tenure becamehighly controversial. There was a widespread feeling that everything under the Congressregime had a price tag and nothing was impossible if one was ready to pay the bribe.Corruption charges were levelled at him, especially in the affairs of leasing out the mines andawarding the contracts for World Bank funded cyclone reconstruction work involvinghundreds of crores of rupees. It was also alleged that crores of rupees had changed hands inallowing liquor barons and influential persons to start several private medical and engineeringcolleges with hefty capitation fees. He granted a medical and an engineering college also to atrust run by his wife and son. All this provided sufficient fodder to the opposition guns. TheTDP once again became active. The High Court passed severe strictures against the CM forgranting capitation fee colleges of medicine and engineering. The Congress image had gonedown so much that it received a thorough drubbing at the hands of the TDP in the earlierphase of 1991 Lok Sabha elections held before the killing of Rajiv Gandhi. It was Rajiv’sdeath that saved the Congress in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections. Even after P.V. Narasimha Rao, the former CM of AP, became the Prime Minister ofIndia, the stock of the Congress in the State did not improve much in the public eye. In theCongress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting held to ‘elect’ a new CM, in place of JanardanReddy, the ‘sealed cover’ from the PM and party president, was sent appointing the veteran
35faction leader from Rayalaseema and a former CM of the State, Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy,to the post. Soon the dissident factions intensified their activity against the CM, but at thesame time proclaiming unflinching loyalty to the High Command. The CM was criticized forhis feudal attitude and behaving like a factional leader. The anti-arrack movement by women,dalit assertion and the growth of the BSP in the State and the Naxalite activities also led tothe dampening the morale of the Congressmen and erosion in the electoral base of theCongress. These social and political movements are discussed later in this section. In the elections to the Assembly in December 1994 the Congress High Command talked ofa ‘rainbow’ coalition of factions, thereby meaning that different factional interests would beaccommodated in selecting the candidates. When there was a demand for more number ofcandidates from the BCs and reduced representation for the Reddis, P.V. Narasimha Raostressed the need for ‘social balancing’ in a way that did not upset the Congress applecart.The Congress president took upon himself the responsibility of carrying the electioncampaign. He started his campaign by invoking the Telugu sentiment by saying that he cameas a son of the soil (telugu bidda) to seek vote as alms (bhiksha). He urged the people to savehim from the ignominy of Congress defeat in his home State. He also harped upon the oldtheme about the necessity to have the same party in power both at the Centre and in the Statesfor harmonious functioning and to avoid any mismatch between the policies of the Centre andthe State governments. The issue of development vs. welfare came to the fore in the elections. PV focused on hiseconomic policies of liberalization, the rise in nation’s credit worthiness under his leadership,and the Centre’s record of economic achievements. He counterposed development andwelfare implying that development would suffer if welfare (populist) schemes as promised byNTR were implemented. Countering the Congress argument NTR harped on the theme that itwas the responsibility of the government to provide the basic needs to the people, namelyfood, clothing and shelter. He questioned the theory of development in opposition to thewelfare of the poor. He said that development for him was the welfare of the poor, whiledevelopment for Congress meant enrichment of party leaders. NTR lambasted the Congressfor legalizing corruption, for amassing wealth at the expense of society and for neglecting theneeds of the poor. In his well-attended meetings he promised to reintroduce the subsidizedrice scheme, to impose total prohibition on liquor and to supply electricity to farmers atsubsidized rates. Although NTR himself was one of the richest persons in the State, he couldproject himself as the champion of the disadvantaged and the weaker sections. The presenceof the two communist parties on his side enhanced the aura of NTR as a progressive and pro-poor. The TDP and its left allies were able to project the new economic policy of theCongress Government and the liberalization process as ‘pro-rich’. The Congress party provedto be no match to NTR’s populism. If Mrs. Gandhi had upstaged her rivals in the late 60swith the slogan garibi hatao (drive away poverty) and her radical postures, NTR couldupstage the Congress with the slogan ‘basic needs to the poor’. If the Congress had alwaysexploited the rich-poor divide and talked of the poor without hurting the rich, NTR proved tobe one-up in this and beat the Congress in its own game. Belying all projections and predictions the TDP scored a massive victory in the 1994Assembly elections (Suri, 1995: 110-28). The TDP got three-fourths majority in theAssembly on its own, winning 219 seats out of 251 it contested, and more than four-fifths ifthe seats won by the allies were added. The left parties, the allies of the TDP, won in 34constituencies. TDP’s success rate (candidates contested and won) of 87 per cent, comparedto 76 per cent of the Congress in 1972, was a record in AP’s electoral history. The TDP andits allies swept the polls in all the three regions, winning 120 (out of 133) in coastal Andhra,
3642 (52) in Rayalaseema and 91 (107) in Telengana. In this election, the Congress had thedubious record of winning the lowest number of seats (26) and not being in a position toclaim the status of an officially recognized opposition party in the State Assembly. TheCongress could not win a single seat in 11 districts, seven of them being in the Telenganaregion. The TDP and its allies, CPI and CPM, have polled 51.32 per cent of the valid votes(the TDP, on its own, got 44.79 per cent votes). While the Congress polled 33.56 per cent,similar to the low vote polled by it in the 1983 elections (Table 3). Compared to the 1989Assembly election, when it polled 45.33 per cent votes, the Congress lost 11.7 percentagepoints in the 1994 elections. Not simply the defeat, but the magnitude of the Congress defeatwas significant. Some attributed the TDP success to the charismatic appeal of NTR, the trust the poorreposed in him for his resolve to implement welfare schemes and his pro-peasant and pro-women position. NTR called his victory ‘a silent revolution’ of the hungry masses, sufferingwomen and the unemployed. The Congress defeat was attributed to the poor image of theparty due to factional infighting, perception that the Congress government was dominated byReddis, widespread corruption, impact of the liberalization measures on the poor, theinability of the Congress leaders to counter the TDP election campaign and the desire for achange in the government. The election results had shown that the Andhra electorate did notgo by the sentiment that they should vote for the Congress to ensure the continuation of aTelugu Congressman at the helm of affairs in the country, a sentiment which PV and hissupporters sought to invoke during the election campaign. Another implication of the electionoutcome was the rejection of the theme of electing the same party at the Centre and in theState, despite the warning from the top Congress leaders that voting for a non-Congress partymeant trouble to the people of the State and would lead to Centre-State conflicts. As mentioned earlier, the notable among the social and political movements that haveaffected the politics in AP since the emergence of the TDP were those concerned with theassertion of the dalits, naxalite struggles and the anti-arrack campaign by women. They haveraised certain fundamental questions about the rationale of the social order, nature of thepolitical set up, and the policy framework and priorities of the government. The period witnessed the growth of dalit assertion and the emergence of independent dalitorganizations and political parties in the State. After the TDP came to power tensions grewbetween the upper caste peasant communities and the dalits in villages. The attack by theKammas on the Madigas in Karamchedu village in Prakasam district in July 1985, killing sixpersons and injuring many, caused an uproar in the State (Narasimha Reddy, 1985: 1546-49).The dalits were organized by leaders from within the community in a protracted struggle forjustice and against the TDP government. After the Congress came into power in 1989, theReddy landlords and their kinsmen (including the small landowners) in the fertile andagriculturally developed Chunduru village of Guntur district hacked to death eight dalits inAugust 1991 (Raghavulu, 1992). While these attacks on the dalits were generally deplored byall, the dalit leaders launched criticism that the dalits were subjected to atrocities under boththe TDP rule, which they described as the Kamma raj, and the Congress rule, termed asReddy raj. That these attacks took place not in a backward area but in relatively more advanceddistricts and villages show that the processes of modernization and democratization do not inthemselves obviate the caste tensions, and in fact, may even exacerbate them. The awakeningamong the dalits, the leadership potential of its movement was strong in the coastal districtswhere ‘capitalist development’ and commercialization in agriculture took place. The
37development of agriculture and the corresponding educational and employment opportunitiesand urban exposure benefited the dalits to some extent. Those among the dalits, who hadacquired some land, received education, employed in government service and had urban workexperience resented the traditional attitudes of the members of peasant castes towards them.The refusal of many dalits to adhere to the traditional norms of deference towards themembers of the upper castes became a source of tension. The pace at which the members ofthe peasant castes reconcile to the changing realities and the demands of a democratic politydo not often match. Thus one could see in large parts of rural AP an atmosphere of perpetualtension between the peasant communities, be it the Kammas, Kapus, Reddis, Velamas, Rajus,or Yadavas, on the one hand and the dalits. The attacks in Karamchedu and Chunduruvillages were only the violent expression of this widespread tension between these socialgroups at large. Dalit assertion of a different type was noticed in some districts of Telengana,where the Naxalite groups are active. With Kanshi Ram arriving on the political scene of Andhra Pradesh the dalit politics wereexpected to take a new shape. Cashing on the emergence of strong dalit movement during1985-93, Kanshi Ram gave a call to put an end to the erstwhile pattern of dominant castesenjoying power using the dalit votes. He wanted to capture political power through electoralmeans ending generations of dependence and subservience to the Bramhanical castes – in APcontext Brahmans according to dalit leaders would include the Kammas, the Reddis, theKapus, the Velamas, etc., apart from the three dwija castes in Hindu social hierarchy. Severalleaders of the Dalit Mahasabha, a socio-political organization of the dalits, some independentdalit leaders, some former Naxalite activists joined the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in AP.The middle class sections that emerged among the Scheduled Castes lent support. Thoughsome BC leaders initially showed interest in the BSP they later turned lukewarm or left theBSP. The BSP thus largely remained a party of the dalits, although according to Kanshi Ram,the concept of bahujans is a broad one that includes people who belong to backward castes,scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities. The BSP accused the upper caste leaders ofthe TDP and the Congress for perpetuating the rule of the dominant castes by buildingalliances of caste elites. The CPI, the CPM and some leaders of left extremist groups werecritical of organizing the dalits on the basis of mere caste consciousness. The Congress partymade a dalit leader the Deputy Chief Minister as a symbolic gesture with a hope to attract andretain the electoral support among the dalits. Hopes as well as fears were raised during theearly 90s about the possibility of the BSP emerging as a major force in the State politics(Srinivasulu, 1994). As an anti-climax of the drive to carve out an autonomous role for thebahujans in the politics of AP came the reports of a clandestine deal between the Congressand the BSP for a Congress victory in the 1994 Assembly elections. The BSP became a non-starter in the elections. It secured only 1.3 per cent votes losing deposits in all theconstituencies it contested, except in two. Around the same time the representatives of the BCs began to have a larger role inpolitics, especially after the TDP came into power. Several commentators on AP politicspointed out that a feeling of resentment among the BCs in the State grew against theCongress party during the 70s. They perceived that the Congress party was more interested inwooing the SC voters, that the welfare and developmental programmes introduced by thegovernment had mainly benefited the SCs and that the problems of the BCs were neglectedalthough they too suffer from socio-economic backwardness. Due to such resentment, theBCs, it is said, overwhelmingly voted for the TDP in the 1983 elections. The TDP alsoaccommodated BC candidates in good number – there were 61 MLAs from BCs in 1983 and59 MLAs in 1985. During the TDP rule, the Congress leaders tried their best to attract the BC
38vote by organizing meetings of various backward caste associations and such a task wasassigned to the respective Congress leaders. In order to counter the Congress moves the TDP government accepted, in July 1986, theMuralidhara Rao Commission Report on reservation for backward castes in education andemployment and raised the reservations for the BCs from 25 to 44 per cent. NTR neithercared to build a consensus on reservation quota for the BCs nor consulted other parties in thismatter. His decision was hasty, lacked conviction and was a part of the political game of one-upmanship. Those who opposed the enhancement of the quota formed the Nava SangharshaSamiti and launched an agitation opposing the government decision. The pro-reservationistsformed another body – Sarva Sangrama Parishad – to defend the rise in reservation quota.The State was engulfed in a caste conflagration for two months during August-September1986. While majority of the Congress leaders whipped up feelings against the TDPgovernment, the upper caste party cadres of the Congress actively supported the anti-reservation agitation. However, some Congress leaders supported the increase but decried theopportunistic way in which the TDP government made the decision. Later a three-judgeBench of the AP High Court struck down the increase as unconstitutional. Faced with thewrath from the anti-reservationists, NTR took shelter under the Court decision and withdrewthe G.O. with equal haste. This episode clearly revealed the politics of reservation policy inthe State – how the interest groups based on caste define justice in a way that suits them andthus bring pressure on the government to bestow benefits on them and how the political classseeks to use governmental power either to demand or enact laws in the name of social justicebut actually to suit their own interest, that is to keep power to themselves. Such politics oftenleads to crisis situation. From the early 1990s, various BCs began to organize State level meetings to articulatetheir economic and political demands, attended by the Congress CM and his Cabinetcolleagues. To meet the rising aspirations among the BCs, V. Hanumantha Rao, a BC leader,was made the APCC president by Rajiv Gandhi. He became an aspirant and strong contenderfor CM’s post after Channa Reddy’s exit. Later Majji Tulasi Das, a BC, was made the APCCpresident. Vijayabhaskara Reddy had to expand his Ministry to include one from each majorBC community in the State. After the BSP-SP victory in the UP election, the Congressleaders in AP began to talk about the need for giving more space to the BCs in powerstructure. When M. Padmanabham, a Kapu MLA launched an agitation for inclusion ofKapus in the BC list, the Congress government issued orders in August 1994, just on the eveof the Assembly elections, including not only the Kapus but also the Muslims in thebackward classes. But the move was opposed by the BC representatives, who felt thatinclusion of the Kapus, a forward community, in the BCs list would adversely affect theirprospects. All political parties in Andhra Pradesh made conscious efforts, under mountingpressure, to give more importance to the BCs and accommodate leaders from these castesmore in number in party committees and government positions. Women’s movement for prohibition of arrack (cheap liquor) was another important socialmovement in the 1990s (Narasimha Reddy and Patnaik, 1993; Ilaiah, 1992). Arrackcontractors, united into syndicates, became a powerful lobby in State politics, funding thepolitical parties and candidates in elections, including those of the communist parties. A goodnumber of liquor contractors were politicians themselves, either directly or under fictitiousnames (benami), or close relatives of the politicians or real force behind some legislators andMinisters. After the TDP came into power government took over the function of productionand distribution of arrack in the State, giving it a beautiful name varuni vahini (stream ofliquor). In order to augment revenue from liquor business, the TDP government auctioned
39shops village wise. Government revenue from arrack sale, which was Rs.1,500 million in1982, shot up to a staggering amount of Rs.6,300 million in 1991. It was estimated at thattime that around Rs.14,000 million get transferred annually from arrack consumers, whowere mostly labourers and poor people, into the hands of contractors, of which 45 per centwent to the government. Thus the contractors pocketed nearly Rs.8,000 million every year.Imagine a situation when the government made arrangements, to overcome the resistancefrom people agitating against arrack sales, for selling it in police stations in Telengana region. The network of arrack contractors and sub-contractors was very extensive from the Statecapital to the village level to maximize its sales with all necessary employment of musclepower to carry on the business and bribing the administration. As a result consumption ofarrack increased by several fold, household economies of the lower classes were ruined andfamily problems had increased. The rural women, who were the worst victims of the arrackmenace, got organized in the villages, attacked arrack shops and prevented the governmentfrom conducting their auctions. The police mercilessly beat women and large-scale arrestswere made in November 1992. The hirelings and musclemen of the contractors disturbed thesit in strikes (dharnas) by the women agitators by attacking them with lathis. The activeparticipation of the left parties in the agitation gave it a momentum. With an eye on ‘womenvotes’, NTR extended support to the agitation, although the liquor consumption actuallybecame a menace during his regime. While the agitation was going on the governmentsanctioned another 12 distilleries to private agencies. As there was a hue and cry, and aspressure from women agitators mounted, the Excise Minister resigned from the Ministry andthe Assembly. The nexus between the politicians, bureaucrats, contractors and the police wasexposed during the agitation. In the bye-elections in April 1993 prohibition became animportant issue. The government was finally forced to introduce partial prohibition in April1993 in Nellore district, where the agitation had started and was widespread, and fromOctober 1993 throughout the State. But sufficient damage was already done to the Congresselectoral prospects. Total prohibition (of arrack as well as Indian Made Foreign Liquor)became an important issue in the 1994 Assembly election and it was considered one majorfactor in swinging the women vote in favour of the TDP in its spectacular victory. VI Politics of Pragmatism That NTR, the patriarch of the TDP, was removed from power and party position in anignominious manner by his party MLAs and Ministers within a few months of his massivevictory in December 1994 elections, which he termed as ‘silent revolution’, was a bigparadox in AP State politics. It was again a paradox that Chandrababu Naidu, NTR’s youngerson-in-law, who played a crucial role in ‘guarding’ the TDP MLAs from deserting NTRduring the ‘coup’ against him in 1984, for which NTR publicly expressed his gratitude, wasthe central figure in this revolt against NTR in August 1995. The removal of NTR and theassumption of the twin offices of the CM and the Party President by Chandrababu Naidumarked the end an era of charismatic, populist and autocratic politics of NTR and thebeginning of a new phase, characterized by pragmatism and economic reform in AP politics. Paradoxes, indeed, represent a condition of contradictory qualities, but they have theirown rationale. In a way, the ouster of NTR could be seen, with hindsight of course, as thetragic outcome of NTR politics itself. The evolution of the TDP as a party has shown how ademocratic upsurge among the people could be used, in the name of mass democracy, toestablish an autocratic regime. Although NTR lambasted the Congress for perpetuating
40family rule over the country, he pursued the same thing much more vigorously in AP. Underthe prevailing conditions in which political power is treated by the top ruling elite as propertyto be bequeathed at their personal will to their family members, the inheritance of powerbecame an issue during the life time of NTR itself. Once he designated his actor-son,Balakrishna, to be his political heir. Two of his sons-in-law, who occupied crucial positionsin the Party, would not relish this dynastic wish. The growing authority of his much-malignedwife, who was so dear to him, perturbed his other family members and some senior leaders ofthe party. The Ministers and MLAs were also unhappy as NTR reduced them to non-entities,did not allow them to use patronage and power to get things done for themselves and to theirsupporters. There was also growing resentment among the elite, given the shifting policyenvironment in the country, against his ‘populist’ schemes that they now thought wereburdensome, unproductive and anti-development. They saw in Chandrababu Naidu, theRevenue and Finance Minister in the NTR’s Cabinet, a prudent and pragmatic leader withviews commensurable to the emergent paradigm of economic development. Unlike on the earlier occasion in 1984, when the overthrow of NTR was projected asmurder of democracy, this time in 1995 there was much pity but no mass upsurge. NTRtoured the State wailing over what had happened to him and imploring the people to fight forhis restoration, but with no avail. The whole affair was passed of as an event of episodicsignificance, or as just a family matter (Balagopal, 1995: 2482-84). Ironically, when the stagewas set in Hyderabad for upstaging him, NTR was busy in ‘Government at People’sDoorstep’ (Prajala Mungita Palana) programme, in a north coastal district, along with somegovernment officials, Ministers and party workers. He had even no inkling of the impendingrevolt against him until it was all over. The problem in politics is that every thing appears tobe normal and fine to the autocratic ruler as he reigns supreme and the flatterers around makehim believe that he is truly a great man. In the process he throws all democratic norms towind, personalizes power, systematically destroys democratic institutions, stifles all dissentand criticism, including the ones helpful to the healthy functioning of the party andgovernment, because he thinks them as many impediments and unnecessary. Gradually hegets alienated from people, disaffection brews in the party and bursts into open when itreaches the breaking point. Those who lie low, but waiting for an opportunity, now act withvengeance and great force, knocking down the big boss from the pedestal. The entire aura,charm and the hallowed status of this superman seem to vanish in no time and he suddenlyappears to every one as somewhat less than an ordinary mortal. When the calamity befallshim, he finds dumped as a spent material, forlorn and deserted. Thus NTR too became avictim of the conditions he himself had engendered in the party and government. NTR’spolitical career should remain a lesson to any politician in the country. NTR, who vowed to kick out the ‘backstabbers’ and ‘traitors’ and to stage a come back,died within four months of his removal from office. Heading whatever remained of the NTRfaction of the TDP, the widowed Lakshmi Parvathi imagined herself to be the true politicalheir to NTR and that people were on her side. During the 1996 elections she wanted to provethat the mandate of the 1994 elections was for NTR. She went round the State imploringpeople to undo the injustice meted out to her deceased husband. The 1996 LS electionsbecame an occasion to settle the claims and counter claims of the two TDP groups — TDPNaidu (TDPN) and TDP Lakshmi Parvathi (TDPLP) — for the legacy of NTR. The CongressParty, which remained cozy at the developments in the TDP, was confident that its electoralprospects were considerably brightened due to the turbulence in the TDP and its split. Whilethe leaders of the Janata Dal and the BSP supported the TDPLP, the left parties sided with theTDPN. In the 1996 LS elections the TDPN polled 32.6 per cent of the votes, about the same
41the TDP polled in the 1991 elections, but improved its seats tally from 13 to 16. Faced as hewas with a formidable rival faction of the TDP it was in a way victory for Chandrababu. Itgreatly helped him to exorcise NTR’s ghost and emerge as a leader in his own right. TheTDPLP polled 10.6 per cent votes but failed to get any seat. The marginalization of theTDPLP was complete in the 1998 LS elections, by which time the leaders who remained withNTR when he was toppled shifted their allegiance either to the TDPN or to other parties(Srinivasulu and Sarangi, 1999: 2449-58). Viewed in the background of its worst electoral defeat in the 1994 Assembly elections, theperformance of the Congress was better in the 1996 LS elections. However, there was only amarginal difference in the electoral strength of the Congress and the TDP in the two LSelections of 1996 and 1998. The Congress and the TDP (and allies) polled 39.7 and 37.9 percent votes respectively in the 1996 elections. The figures for the 1998 elections were 38.5 and37.5 per cent (Table 4). The emergence of the BJP, whose prestige and visibility was growing due to its position atthe Centre, as a new political force to reckon with in the State was a significant feature of theoutcome of the 1998 LS elections. It had an electoral alliance with the TDPLP, which seemsto have benefited it much more than the latter, as the estranged sections of the TDP whoearlier rallied behind the TDPLP might have seen a better alternative in the BJP whose statushad changed by now. It won four seats, taking two each from the Congress and the TDP.From a modest electoral support base of two per cent in the 1989 LS elections, the BJPincreased its vote share to 18.3 per cent in the 1998 LS elections. More importantly, the period between the 1996 and the 1998 LS elections saw thedeparture from NTR’s type of politics and public policies in the State. It is surprising as tohow Chandrababu Naidu, who was a prominent leader of the TDP during NTR’s regime hadeffected a major change in the policy orientation of the government. Before he became CMhe was known more for his organizational abilities – as ‘an outstanding back-room organizer’(Chandrababu Naidu and Ninan, 2000). He did not speak of any tension in the early 1990sbetween the competing paradigms of ‘development’ and ‘populist welfarism’. By that timethe new economic policy was already ushered in by the Congress Party while the TDP stuckto its populism, impressively articulated by NTR. Even after the 1994 elections, he became aMember of the NTR’s Cabinet holding revenue and finance portfolios. The sameChandrababu who acquiesced with NTR’s welfarist/populist programme began to articulatethe emergent paradigm of development after 1996 LS elections, perhaps buoyed up by theoutcome. Perhaps he had also realized that it was expedient to own this new thinking, as hesaw the ascendancy of economic reforms and their consolidation in India. Now Chandrababu felt that the State had landed in a financial crisis because NTR wasunable to balance ‘welfare’ and ‘development’. The TDP government issued a series ofWhite Papers initiating public discussion on the burden of welfare schemes and howprohibition policy led to drying up of the State’s finances. The White Papers revealed aradical departure in ruling TDP’s approach to the problems of the State and future course ofaction — the non-feasibility of governmental subsidies, the need for the reduction ofexpenditure on welfare schemes, lifting of state controls, dismantling the public sector andopening doors for foreign private capital. As a result the government went back on the threeplanks on which the TDP came into power: price of rice supplied through the PDS wasraised, power tariff for the farm sector was increased and prohibition on IMFL was lifted. In tune with his new understanding the TDP government launched the Janmabhoomiprogramme in January 1997. Its aim was to make villages self-sufficient and rural
42development comprehensive. The emphasis was on participatory development. Its intent wasto bring about changes in the people’s tendency to depend on the government to that of ‘self-help’, to make people partners in development rather than ‘passive beneficiaries’, totransform the role of government from ‘provider’ and ‘controller’ to that of ‘facilitator’ and‘enabler’. The CM appealed for a ‘paradigm shift in people’s thinking on growth anddevelopment’ and urged every one to change their ‘mindset’. He wanted to transform the roleof government from being primarily a controller of economy and provider of welfare to oneof facilitator of private sector activity and promoter of business and investor friendlyenvironment (Government of AP, 1999; Srinivasulu, 1999). Chandrababu sounded earnest in his effort and there appeared virtually no alternative tothe course he had adopted. By the time of the 1999 LS and Assembly elections Chandrababuwas projected in regional and national media as a ‘model CM’, ‘dynamic reformer’, ‘hi-techChief Minister’, etc. Chandrababu appealed to the voters to choose between the TDP, whichstood for development, stability and SMART government and the Congress, which stood forstagnation, disorder and retrogression. He talked of good governance, bringingprofessionalism into politics and the need to eliminate corruption and criminal elements frompublic life (Harshe and Srinivas, 2000). He appealed to intellectuals, professionals,businessmen and artists to take active interest in politics and held open meetings (PrajaDeevena programme) to recruit them into the TDP. Since there was a broad agreement between the Congress and the TDP on the need for aparadigmatic shift and the institutionalization of economic reforms, the Congress could notoffer any real alternative policy framework. Chandrababu maintained that he was onlyfollowing the policies of Manmohan Singh and that the Congress governments in other Stateswere also treading the same path. The Left Parties, especially the CPM, launched a sustainedattack on the new policy regime of the TDP, accusing Chandrababu of surrendering to thedictates of the World Bank, of seriously harming the State’s progress and people’s welfare.Chandrababu retorted by saying that after the collapse of socialist countries in Europe therewas no place for isms any more, communism was dead, left parties in India were representinga decadent paradigm of development and that he was only following the Chinese path ofmodernization and Jyoti Basu’s policies in the State. Chandrababu was a pragmatic politician too. He had realized that although his popularityhad increased among the upper classes, it might not fetch sufficient votes to win the nextelection. He knew that despite the praise showered on P.V. Narasimha Rao-Manmohan Singhduo for their economic reforms they were badly mauled at the hustings in the State earlier.The appeal of Narasimha Rao for votu bhiksha on the plank that his new economic policieshad bailed the country out of economic crisis came to nothing before the populist welfarepromises of NTR in the 1994 elections. For Chandrababu, like any other politician, winningthe election was more important, and he realized that in an election year a different strategywas required. Whether at the Centre or State level, the new theory of balancing economicreforms and welfare was dawned upon the political leadership as a result of electoralcompulsions. Thus during the few months prior to the 1999 elections he introduced a plethora ofschemes, outclassing even NTR, purportedly for the welfare and uplift of the dalits, tribalpeople, artisans, poor, handicapped, minorities and every other conceivable section of thesociety. In that way he too was a populist, but perhaps a self-conscious populist. Heconcentrated most on securing the support of women, as he feared that whatever resentmentamong them due to the lifting of ban on liquor might adversely affect his electoral prospects.
43Several incentives were given to DWACRA (Development of Women and Children in RuralAreas) groups. DWACRA bazaars were organized where women could sell their artifacts.Schemes such as sukhibhava (blessing) for post-natal women, samrakshana (protection) forpoor girls, tatkal (immediate) for minor widows, industrial estates and mahila banks, etc.were introduced. The scheme that became highly controversial was the deepam (light)scheme, meant to supply 10 lakh cooking gas connections at subsidized rates, announced justone day before the election schedule was put out by the Election Commission (EC). No one knows how many were really benefited by these schemes, but they werepublicized very well. Flabbergasted by the torrent of welfare schemes, the Congress and theLeft Parties, which had hitherto attacked the TDP for giving up or diluting welfarism, foundthemselves at their wit’s end. They lampooned him for trying to beguile people with his‘schemes gimmicks’ and trying to buy votes with public money. When the EC gave adirective to stop deepam scheme till the elections were over Chandrababu threw blame on theCongress for obstructing schemes for women welfare. On the other hand, it was not difficultfor the elite to understand that Chandrababu had to resort to these ‘politrics’ due tocompulsions of the electoral market and that populist welfarism was not his real agenda.Claiming to have put development and welfare in an equilibrious mode he thought he couldcollect votes with both the hands. With a view to wriggle out of the predicament, the PradeshCongress president hurriedly announced that his Party, if voted to power, would supplyelectricity to farm sector free of charge. Although it had some impact in the Telenganaregion, where large percentage of farmers are dependent on bore wells, it came too late. The 1999 elections became crucial to the TDP for several reasons. First, the TDP soughtfor the first time people’s mandate in the Assembly elections without its founder-leader,NTR. Second, Chandrababu faced the electorate on his own for the first time for power at theState level, which matters most to the TDP leadership. Third, the elections were considered tobe a test for acceptance or otherwise of Chandrababu’s new style of politics and economicpolicies. Fourth, there was realignment of political parties with implications to voting patternand possible shifts at the base, as the BJP and the TDP came together even as the TDP andthe Left fell out with each other. If the number of seats won is the measure to decide the victor and the vanquished in anelection, then the TDP-BJP combine scored an impressive victory. Out of the 42 Lok Sabhaseats in the State the TDP won 29 (out of 39 contested) and the BJP seven (out of eight). As afatal consequence of the quirky side of India’s first-past-the-post electoral system, theCongress Party, which polled more votes than the TDP as far as the Lok Sabha elections wereconcerned (42.8 per cent as against the TDP’s 39.9), could get only five seats, the lowestscore since the formation of the State (Table 4). Of the 293 seats for which elections wereheld to the Assembly, the TDP was in fray in 269 seats and won 179. The regional spread ofits victory was also good as it won a majority of seats in all the three regions of the State: 102seats out of 134 in Coastal Andhra, 32 out of 53 in Rayalaseema, and 58 out of 106 inTelengana. The BJP, which had only 2 seats in the dissolved Assembly, won 12 seats out ofthe 24 allotted to it. The Congress Party, which secured majorities in 157 Assembly segmentsduring the 1998 LS elections, could get only 91 seats. Compared to the 1994 situation therewas tremendous improvement in the Congress performance in 1999 as it increased 7 per centvotes from 33.6 in 1994 to 40.6. The difference between the TDP and the Congress vote in allwas only 10.56 lakh votes. But in a situation of straight contests this was not sufficientenough to secure a majority of seats in the Assembly. Thus, if we go by the votes polled bythe Congress and the TDP, the victory of the Telugu Desam was not as grand as it made outbe or the defeat of the Congress was not as miserable as it appears.
44 If we look at the pattern of election outcomes in recent times, where the ruling parties hadto bow out due to ‘anti-incumbency vote’, the fact that the TDP could retain power wascreditworthy. This aspect of TDP’s victory needs careful examination. Clearly, there wereseveral factors that influenced the election process and outcome in 1999. One of the foremost reasons for the victory of the TDP and the BJP in this election couldbe attributed to the TDP-BJP alliance itself. In the 1998 LS elections TDP secured about 32per cent votes and the BJP 18 per cent, each going to the polls independently. There was afeeling that the BJP was emerging as the third force in the State politics. Apart form the 4seats it won, the BJP stood second or third in 10 other LS constituencies securing 15 or moreper cent votes. In Telengana it secured 26 per cent votes while the TDP got only 23.6 percent. While the voting for the BJP in urban areas caused less surprise, its substantial vote inthe coastal districts of West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore, besideswinning two seats in East Godavari district came as a surprise to both the Congress and theTDP. TDP’s leaders were worried that farmers and youth in the rural areas, especially fromKapus and backward castes, were shifting in a big way from the TDP to the BJP. Immediately after the 1998 elections, the TDP, which hitherto played a major role inbuilding the ‘Third Front’, took an about-turn by extending support to the Vajpayeegovernment at the Centre. Obviously this was for two reasons: (i) it did not want theinstallation of a Congress government at the Centre since the very existence of the TDP in theState has been grounded in its opposition to the Congress – a Congress government at theCentre would mean trouble to the TDP government and also would bolster the Congressposition in the State; and (ii) extending support to the Vajpayee government would be a goodpolitical move to stem the growth of the BJP in the State, since the latter has to keep a lowprofile and befriend the TDP for its survival. This shift in TDP’s strategy of delinking itselffrom the left, as their political cohabitation became untenable due to the Left parties’ hostilityto economic reforms, and aligning with the BJP, a rising political force at the national level,proved to be politically correct in the 1999 elections. The alliance with the BJP compensatedmore than what the TDP lost due to the estrangement of left (in the 1998 elections thecombined left vote stood at 5.5 per cent) and also due to the split in the TDP, whenHarikrishna, who played a catalyst role in toppling NTR and wanted to be the CM, launchedhis own political outfit, the Anna TDP. The BJP had its own strategy, priorities and compulsions. Coming to power at the Centrewas its immediate priority, and, in any way, it had no chance of coming to power on its ownin the State. It requires the TDP’s support in the Lok Sabha. Since the Vajpayee governmentfell with one vote, every single seat it wins or every supporting vote it gets in the Lok Sabhawas crucial, declared its national leaders. As such it did not attach much importance to thenumber of seats it would win in the Assembly, but opted for a greater share in the Lok Sabhaseats. For Chandrababu the priority was to win the Assembly elections, which he thought hecould not win on his own. He could extract concessions from the BJP’s central leadership, ashe knew that it needs his support to win the LS elections. Thus as a result of thecomplimentarity of each other’s priorities and pragmatic considerations the alliance becamepossible. For a long time most of the voters from the Brahman and Vysya communities had been thesupporters of the Congress. But as part of the nation-wide shift of upper caste voters towardsthe BJP, there was a sudden spurt in support of these social groups to the BJP in the State.CSDS data on the 1998 elections in AP show that the vote for the BJP increases as one movesup from lower to higher end on socio-economic status (Table 5). In the 1999 elections the
45TDP-BJP combine received 64 per cent of the votes from these upper castes. Vote among theKapus and the forward among the backward castes was also high for this combine. Thereseems to be some decline in the Muslim vote for the TDP due to the alliance, as it went downfrom 46 per cent in 1998 to 28 per cent in 1999. The support for Congress Party amongReddis and dalits remained very high, while it was at considerable level among the lowerOBCs. The CSDS data show that in the 1999 election the middle class voters favoured theCongress party more in number than the TDP (Table 6). It has been maintained for some timeby the critics of economic reforms that the strength of the new economic policies was due tosupport from the middle classes who saw in them new opportunities for employment andacquisition of consumer goods. If we go by this logic a higher proportion of middle classesshould have voted for the TDP instead of the Congress. It is also perplexing to note thatsupport for the TDP among the very poor was significantly high as compared to theCongress. This was true even in 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections. When compared to the 1998 LS elections the TDP-BJP alliance polled about the samepercentage of votes in 1999 — the combined vote of the TDP and the BJP in 1998 was 50.3per cent, while it was 49.8 per cent in 1999. That means had the BJP contested separately andsecured at least half of the votes it got in the 1998 elections, the TDP would have lost theelections badly. The TDP leadership was initially worried when simultaneous elections wereannounced in the State, because when such simultaneous elections were held in 1989 theParty was trounced at both the levels. After seeing the enthusiasm in the Congress circles andthe excitement generated by Sonia’s campaign they were afraid that a similar fate mightbefall them this time too. However, as it turned out, the simultaneous elections went in favourof the TDP. The pro-BJP factors, such as the anti-Sonia feeling among the upper castes, thefailure of the Congress to form government at the Centre after it had pulled down the BJPgovernment, the glorified image of Vajpayee, etc., helped the Telugu Desam too. CSDSsample data show that ballot splitting was negligible as most of the voters who voted for theBJP also had voted for the TDP. The TDP-BJP alliance got 49.8 per cent votes in the LSelections and 47.5 per cent in the Assembly elections. It is not certain whether the BJP corevoters would have voted to the TDP on such a scale had the elections to the LS and theAssembly held separately. The alliance with the BJP was equally important to the TDP in that it helped to play downthe negative side of the TDP government and neutralized to some extent the deep-seatedantipathy towards it among certain pro-BJP social groups. The upper caste elites, who are inlarge number in the bureaucracy, professions, academics, electronic and print media, have asignificant role in opinion formation. Earlier in 1989 some of these sections played a crucialrole in generating an anti-TDP political climate. But the alliance with the BJP, coupled withthe pragmatic approach of Chandrababu and his policies had changed the situation. Themedia hype in favour of the TDP-BJP combine, creating a positive image of Chandrababuand consent to his policies became factors in creating a favourable environment and bluntinganti-TDP sentiment. Another important development in AP politics during Chandrababu’s regime, whichhelped the TDP to increase its vote among the dalits, was the emergence of the autonomousorganization of the Madigas. The Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti, led by a young manKrishna, spearheaded the agitation for categorization of SC reservations so that the Madigaswould gain their due share in education, employment and other benefits provided by thegovernment (Suri, 2001). The MRPS leadership supported the Telugu Desam in the 1998 LSelections, while the Mala Mahanadu, the organization claiming to represent the Malas,
46supported the Congress Party. CSDS data show that about one-third of the SC voters votedfor the TDP-BJP alliance while the Congress Party got 63 per cent (Tables 6). Commenting on the election results Chandrababu said that the TDP could win becausewomen had voted to the TDP on a large scale. CSDS data show that while 47.1 per centwomen voters voted for the TDP-BJP alliance, 41.7 voted for the Congress. The women votefor the TDP had been on the higher side in all the previous elections. It was 50.3 and 42.9 in1996 and 45.7 and 42.5 in 1998 in favour of the TDP and the Congress respectively (Table5). That Chandrababu could stem the partial alienation of women voters in the aftermath oflifting prohibition by introducing a number of welfare schemes for women, as he took thewomen vote in favour of the TDP close to the 1996 level, is something noteworthy. The numerous welfare schemes launched by the TDP government before the electionsmight have influenced some sections of voters. The election surveys reveal that voters aremore concerned about their immediate problems, rather than long-term strategies and largernational problems. Thus during the 1999 post-poll survey when asked: ‘What, in your viewshould the new government attend on a priority basis?’ many mentioned policies that wouldattend their basic needs. When asked: ‘What was the reason for whom you voted in thiselection?’, the overwhelming response was that the candidate or the candidate’s party or thelocal leaders helped in the fulfillment of their immediate needs such as getting ration cards,bank loans, house-sites, government assistance, gas connection, drinking water, approachroad, etc. The grand issues of globalization, liberalization, etc, which have far-reachingimpact on their lives, seem to have very little place in their voting decisions. Thus the welfareschemes might not have got votes from all sections on a large scale, but whatever themarginal impact they had on voting decisions of some among some sections was significantenough for the TDP to improve its electoral prospects. Certain personal traits of Chandrababu and his leadership style were also helpful to theparty. Unlike older generation of political leaders, he represented the new type of politician.He was educated, intelligent, young and hardworking. He did not possess the charisma ofNTR, nor he is an impressive speaker. But he amply compensated these qualities by hisabilities of shrewd planning, extraordinary memory, management skills and hard work. Hewas always projected as a leader working hard, touring the districts and meeting people. Ininitiating public discussion on the status of finances of the government, on the problems ofwelfare schemes, launching Janmabhoomi programmes, and surprise visits to governmentoffices, or in the face-to-face programmes with the CM telecast every week on the TV, hemade himself visible everywhere. In local meetings he showed perseverance and confidencein answering criticisms and questions. He tried to communicate with people directly givingan impression that he relied more on people for continuation in power than on intermediarystructures of the party or government. For this he had put the electronic tools and informationtechnology to good use. There was a feeling in some circles that the personalized attacks against Chandrababu andthe negative campaigning carried out by the Congress leaders proved to be counter-productive. They ridiculed Chandrababu’s commitment to good governance as hypocritical ashe accused him for amassing wealth at great speed, promoting corruption and enabling hisMLAs and party men to siphon off money from the World Bank funds. The verbal tirades ofthe opposition, which were mostly aimed at Chandrababu, actually made him the centralfigure in State politics. Every one seems to be talking about him, for good or bad, and otherswere seen only in relation to him. His seizure of power form his father-in-law might haveappeared unethical in the beginning but it gradually faded out as time progressed or people
47simply chose to forget it as he appeared doing hard and good work for the State. While hewas respected by the elite and the middle classes, Chandrababu took enough care that he wasnot hated by the common man. Like NTR, he was not loved and worshipped by partymen andsupporters, but he keeps people around him in awe. During the period after 1996 the Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh found itself for thefirst time since the formation of the State in a distressful situation of not being in power bothat the Central and State levels. When the TDP was in power during 1983-89, the Congresswas able to mount its activity with the support of its own government at the Centre and thepatronage available for it to bestow on the State Congress leaders in the State. But after 1996it was like fish out of water. On the other hand Chandrababu remained a key figure in theCentral government both during the period of the UF government and later the BJP-ledgovernment, apart form holding power at the State level. Political clout and financial strengthof the TDP leaders and supporters went up. A class of neo-rich, who were benefited throughgovernment contracts and patronage at different levels, grew in support of the Party making itfinancially sound. There were also certain other advantages to Chandrababu, which the Congress did nothave. In the TDP he was the supreme leader. All factions and faction leaders in the Partyhave to be loyal to him, unlike in the Congress where factions in the State party are always atloggerheads each claiming to have the blessings of some leader at the Centre. On the eve ofthe 1999 polls there were mutual bickering among the faction leaders in the Congress as towho should become the next CM. Most of the Congress leaders were busy in their factionalquarrels. They lacked a coherent alternative programme to present before the people. As far as the Left Parties were concerned the 1999 elections showed how weak they havebecome under the shadow of NTR, who stood like a banyan tree over them. For the first timeafter 1983 the CPI and the CPM contested the elections by opposing the major politicalparties of the State — the Congress, the TDP and the BJP. The Left Parties secured thelowest percentage of votes since the formation of the State — 2.7 per cent in the LS and 3.3per cent in the Assembly elections. While the CPI did not secure even a single seat the CPMgot two. The magnitude of their defeat becomes more explicit if we notice that in all the seatswhere they contested CPM stood at second position in four places and CPI in two placesonly. The splinter groups of the TDP, namely the TDPLP and Anna TDP, were wiped out in the1999 elections. Neither of the two rival TDP leaders – Lakshmi Parvathi of TDPLP orHarikrishna of the Anna TDP – had any grasp of the changing policy environment oralternative plans for the development of the State. There were mostly motivated by ill willtowards Chandrababu Naidu and the prospect of capturing political power. Initially there wassome interest among the TDP activists about Harikrishna’s (ATDP) abilities to rally support.Although very few in the State believed that he would emerge as an alternative to the TDP, itwas felt that he would cut into the TDP vote, marring the TDPN prospects. Once the electionprocess began the Anna TDP proved to be a non-starter. The Mahajana Front, a conglomerateof 13 political groups and organizations of backward castes, dalits and tribals, put upcandidates in 131 seats. It worked out a formula whereby seats were apportioned to differentcastes, sub-castes, religious groups and women in proportion to their population. The Frontdid not carry much weight with the electorate. The defeat of the Congress Party in the 1994 and the 1999 Assembly elections, however,does not mean that it has been written off or got exhausted. There were occasions when theelectoral reverses of the Congress were thought to be irreversible, but the Party showed
48ample resilience and staged a come back. It has its own network of leaders from local to Statelevels, operating in a peculiar democratic party organization of its own. The array of socialgroups that support the Congress is still quite impressive. This became clear in the panchayatelections held in July-August 2001. This we should examine in some detail now. VII Elections to the Panchayati raj Bodies, 2001 Elections to the panchayat bodies were due in March 2000 itself, as they were earlier heldin Feb 1995, immediately after the 1994 Assembly elections. But the elections werepostponed several times due to one reason or the other. Finally they had to be held, under theorders of the Supreme Court, during July-August 2001. Since the elections to the upper twotiers of the pachayat raj were held on party basis, they had assumed the proportion of a minigeneral election. It was truly a massive exercise in grassroots democracy with people calledupon to choose about 2.43 lakh representatives at different levels in the panchayati raj set up.They became crucial to the political parties for various reasons: (i) they provided anopportunity for the Congress party to stage a come back or for the TDP to further consolidatethe gains it got in the earlier elections; (ii) claims and counter claims made by the contendingparties about the economic reforms and welfare programmes of the TDP and the extent ofsupport enjoyed by them; (iii) the realignment of the Congress and the Left parties after aperiod of nearly two decades, and the breakdown of the alliance between the TDP and theBJP; (iv) the emergence of the issue of separate Telengana spearheaded by the TelenganaRashtra Samithi (TRS), a new political outfit founded by the former deputy speaker of theAssembly and TDP rebel, K. Chandrasekhara Rao; and also (v) the issue of transferringpowers to the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) as stipulated in the Constitution of India aswell as Panchayati raj Act of the State. The panchayati raj set up in the State became somewhat complex after the presentPanchayati Raj Act was brought into force by the Congress government in 1994 on the basisof the 73rd amendment to the Constitution. The Act provides for a three-tier structure – GramPanchayat at the village level, Mandal Parishad at the intermediary (Mandal) level, and ZillaParishad at the district level. Each mandal and district is divided into a number of territorialconstituencies. Each Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) consists ofpopulation of over 4,000 and each Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) consists ofpopulation of over 50,000. There are 1,094 Mandal Parishads with a total of 14,591 MPTCs.Since the area of a Mandal is coterminous with that of the ZPTC, there are 1,094 ZPTCs inthe 22 districts (excluding Hyderabad, which is entirely urban) of the State. Depending on thesize of population, the number of ZPTCs, MPTCs and Mandals varies from district to district. According to the Act elections should be held to the MPTCs and ZPTCs on party basis,and to the village panchayats on non-party basis. Each Mandal Parishad consists of membersdirectly elected from the MPTCs and the Zilla Parishad (ZP) consists of members directlyelected from the ZPTCs. The members of the Zilla Parishad choose one among them as theZilla Parishad chairperson. Thus, elections to the sarpanches (president) of gram panchayat(village panchayat), and members of the Mandal and Zilla Parishads are direct; the electionsto the president of the Mandal Parishad and the chairperson of the Zilla Parishad are indirect.Sarpanches of the village panchayats are permanent invitees to the Mandal Parishad and allthe presidents of the Mandal Parishads are permanent invitees to the meetings of the ZillaParishads.
49 34 per cent of positions at all levels – village panchayat sarpanches, members of thevillage panchayat, MPTCs, ZPTCs, Mandal Presidents and ZP chairpersons – are reserved topersons who belong to backward castes, 17.56 per cent to the Scheduled Castes, and 7.61 percent to the Scheduled Tribes. Within each of these categories and the unreserved categoryone-third of positions are reserved to women. All these reservations are based on two-foldcriteria: their respective proportions in the population, and by rotation, i.e., the officesreserved to the BCs, SCs, STs and women during the earlier election shall not be reserved tothe same category till a cycle of reservations in that category is completed. The present structure of the panchayati raj has been a source of confusion, controversy andcriticism. The territorial constituency members of the zilla and the mandal parishads are inconfusion as to their role in the present dispensation. Other than electing presidents orchairpersons and participating in the deliberations of the parishads, the MPTC and the ZPTCmembers have no executive powers, while the sarpanches, MP presidents and the ZP chairsexercise powers. The TD government obtained a unanimous resolution by the State Assemblyseeking the abolition of the territorial constituency system and direct election of mandalpresidents and zilla parishad chairpersons. An all-party meeting at Delhi in May 2001 to seeksupport for such an amendment was inconclusive and the judgment of the Supreme Courtcame in the meanwhile. Hence, the State government has no other option but to hold theelections under the present structure. The contrast between the TDP and the Congress came to the fore during the panchayatelections. As in the 1995 elections, the candidate selection in the TDP was highly centralized,especially for the ZPTCs. In his capacity as the president of the TDP, Chandrababu Naiduspent several days at the NTR Memorial Trust (the headquarters of the party) to selectcandidates for the ZPTCs. The district leaders were summoned to Hyderabad for one-to-oneinteraction with the party president. District-wise meetings, attended by Ministers, MPs andMLAs from the district, district unit president, State secretaries in-charge of the district, etc.were held one after the other. The final lists of candidates were released in installments inHyderabad. The selected candidates were then called to Hyderabad to take a pledge ofloyalty, administered by the party president. In contrast, the Congress chose the rather easyroute of giving a free hand to its district leaders and MLAs to select candidates, in what thePradesh Congress president, Satyanarayana Rao, termed ‘select and elect’ policy todecentralize the selection process and campaigning by the party. District CoordinationCommittees, consisting of a district coordinator, nominated by the Pradesh Congresspresident, MLAs, ex-MPs, ex-MLAs, and representatives of affiliated bodies of the region,were formed for this purpose. The president of the District Congress Committee (DCC) actedas the convenor of the Committee. The Committee members toured the district extensively,often in a bus, and interacted with the party functionaries before finalizing candidates. Thenames of candidates were announced at the district level. The selection of candidates in theCongress might not be very structured as in the TDP, but the Congress has learnt to operatedemocracy at local level in its own style, which appears to outsiders as chaotic and a free forall situation. Having the advantage of being a ruling party with a strong organizational network theTDP had a head start in the election campaign. An impression was sought to be generatedthat the Congress or for that matter any other party in the State was no match to the TDP andthe organizational skills of Chandrababu. ‘None can halt our march to victory’, Chandrababudeclared and asserted that the TDP would win all the ZPs in the State. He criticized theCongress leaders for attempting to mislead the people and raise hopes among them with falsepromises, such as free supply of electricity to farmers. According to him while this was a
50ploy to foment dissatisfaction against his government, it would harm the developmentactivity in the State. The tension between ‘development’ and ‘welfare’ came to the fore onceagain. ‘A vote for the TDP is a vote for development’, was his slogan. He said that he wantedto turn every village into a ‘mini swarnandhrapradesh’ (a golden Andhra Pradesh inmicrocosm). Being a pragmatic politician, Chandrababu was astute enough to suspend on theeve of elections, as in 1999, the theory of the state as ‘facilitator’ for a while and talk of thestate as ‘provider’. Going by the general notion that a large number of voters in this countryare mainly concerned about their local, personal and immediate problems, rather than thelarger national issues and debates, he did his best to attract voters by announcing large scalerecruitment of teachers (about 20,000 of them) for schools managed by local bodies, therelease of 15 lakh new L.P. gas connections to DWACRA and self-help groups under thedeepam scheme, sanctioning of new medical and engineering colleges and laying foundationstones for irrigation schemes in the Telengana. Badly beaten in the Assembly elections and flabbergasted by the publicity blitzkrieg of theTDP, and not very certain of its fortunes in the polls, the Congress’ campaign was not asaggressive as that of the ruling party in the beginning, except a few bold-faced statements ofsome local leaders that the party would sweep the polls. In contrast to the highly centralizedhigh voltage election campaign by the ruling party, the Congress electioneering slowlypicked up momentum. The leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP), RajasekharaReddy, coming down heavily on the TDP government. He charged the TDP with making amockery of the panchayati raj institutions by depriving them of all powers and making themineffective and running the show with bureaucrats. He alleged that the Janmabhoomiprogramme was a farce and it did not accrue any benefit to the people and that the welfareschemes, ‘which the CM remembers only on the eve of elections’, were aimed at deceivingthe voters. The Congress campaign focused on the promise of supply of free power toagriculturists in the State, which the Congress leaders thought helped them in 1999 to securea large number of votes from peasantry who depend on bore-well irrigation, especially inTelengana and Rayalaseema regions. One issue that became significant in the panchayat elections in Telengana region was thedemand for a separate State. In the wake of the creation of three new States by the NDAgovernment, the demand for separate Telengana State once again came to life. While it wasthe dissident Congress faction that launched the separate Telengana struggle in 1969, thistime it was a dissatisfied TDP leader and later a rebel, Chandrasekhara Rao, who led thecampaign. He launched his own outfit, Telengana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which attracted theattention of educated youth and middle class in Telengana region and several unemployedand marginalized political leaders of different parties came to its fold. He carried out awhirlwind tour of Telengana districts attracting large crowds in several places. Apart formgaining power and popularity, which he was denied in the TDP, Chandrasekhara Rao wantedto use panchayat polls as an occasion to prove again that people of Telengana desire aseparate State. Actually, most of the leaders of the Congress and the BJP of the Telengana region favoura separate State and they were unhappy that the TRS was trying to steal the show. The BJP’sregional leadership was caught in a bind. Since the NDA government at the Centre wasdependent on the support of the 29 TD MPs for its survival, the BJP could not openly take upthe separate Telengana demand, lest it antagonizes the TDP, which stands for a unified State.It was unable to give up its commitment for a separate Telengana but at the same time couldnot openly speak about it. Those BJP leaders who took a firm stand in favour of separateTelengana had to fall in linen in due course of time owing to party compulsions. In a game of
51one-upmanship, the Congress legislators from the Telengana region (about 40 of them) haveformed the Telengana Congress Legislators Forum (TCLF), and actively campaigned forseparate Telengana. The slogan of the TCLF was ‘jai Congress, jai Telengana’. Thus theCongress leaders could take quite contrary positions on the Telengana issue: the TCLF andsome other leaders of Telengana demanded a separate State, while the State leadershipremained silent by pleading their helplessness. Of course, there were also fears that an openstand in favour of separate Telengana would jeopardize its electoral prospects in the coastalregion. The Congress and the left parties mounted a scathing attack on the TDP government forundermining PRIs, for diverting funds to Janmabhoomi programmes – funds which shouldhave been channeled through the local bodies, and stamping out the powers of the people’srepresentatives in the PRIs by the imposition of nodal officers. The left parties said that theCM’s talk of people’s participation in government and decentralization was prompted by theWorld Bank and it was an empty rhetoric. They accused that the CM, in actual pratice, wasstriking at the roots of local self-government by depriving them of funds due to them, illegaldiversion of Central government grants to meet the State government expenditure andrefusing transfer of vital powers to the panchayats. Interestingly, the BJP too was critical ofthe TDP government. The State BJP panchayati raj cell convenor criticized the CM forkeeping the panchayati raj in his ‘grip’. It is not that parties other than the TDP are genuinelyinterested to strengthen the panchayati raj bodies by giving them necessary powers andfinances. What became really objectionable to these parties was the way Chandrababu soughtto promote local authority structures, such as Water Users’ Associations, Joint ForestManagement Groups (Vana Samrakshana Samitis), School Education Committees,Watershed Committees, Mothers’ Committees, CMEY (Chief Minister’s programme forEmpowerment of Youth), etc. to accommodate a large number of the TDP activists, in thename of promoting participatory development. The panchayat elections saw the realignment of the Congress and the Left parties almostafter a period of two decades. Having got estranged from the TDP in 1999, when it decided tojettison the debilitated Left parties and embrace the rising BJP, the Left parties became criticsof their former ally for its support to the ‘communal forces’ coupled with its economicreforms. Although the electoral support the Left parties command in the State is not verysubstantial, their support, given the radical tradition of Andhra society and politics and theirability to launch people’s campaigns, is significant to lend a progressive aura to a party theyare in league with. In fact, the CPI wanted to have an alliance with the Congress party in1999 itself, but it did not come through due to resistance from the CPM and insufficiententhusiasm from the Congress leaders, who thought they could win the elections on theirown. However, the Congress and the Left parties later began to coordinate their campaignsagainst the TDP, which was evident in building up a popular and militant campaign againsthike in electricity charges during June-August 2000. This time in the panchayat elections theCPI and the CPM had a broad ‘no mutual contests’ understanding with the Congress in mostof the districts. Equally important was the breakdown of the TDP-BJP alliance. It is said thatChandrababu wanted to show the BJP its place and to preempt any possibility of the BJPemerging as a force to reckon with in the State, an ambition that the State BJP leadership hasbeen nurturing for some time now. In addition to this, the BJP support base is believed to bemore in the urban areas and marginal in rural areas, where the panchayat elections were held.Initially, both the BJP and the TDP have reacted positively to the idea of continuing thealliance, which gave them rich electoral dividends in the Assembly (1999) and Municipal
52(2000) elections. The BJP asked for 165 ZPTCs, where as the TDP was willing to concedeonly 62. The State leadership agreed to leave the seat adjustment talks for both the MPTCsand the ZPTCs to their respective district units. However, as part of pressure tactics, the TDPwent ahead and announced the party candidates for most of the ZPTCs in various districts,saying that its candidates would withdraw in favour of the BJP when a seat adjustment wasworked out, knowing well that it would be very difficult to persuade a candidate to withdrawonce the nomination was filed. However, the seat sharing talks got deadlocked in severaldistricts and finally both the parties went their own way in 12 districts. In the 10 districts theycontested together the BJP was given 53 ZPTC seats, while it fielded candidates in another135 in the rest 12 districts on its own, in what the two parties termed ‘friendly’ contests. Thecalculated disregard for reaching a comprehensive alliance has left a trial of bitterness in theBJP leadership. When the election results came they caused dismay among the TDP leaders, while theywere received with jubilation among the Congress circles. Chandrababu conceded that hisparty did not perform as well as he expected to do. The Congress party emerged stronger inall the three regions of the State and made significant inroads in districts, such as EastGodavari and West Godavari, which the TDP considered its strongholds. In a double troublefor the ruling TDP, the fledgling TRS emerged as a formidable political force in Telengana. Itwas responsible for a situation where no party secured majorities in most of the Telenganadistricts. The TDP has been reduced to third place in some districts of Telengana. InKhammam the Congress left the TDP far behind. The TRS eclipsed the TDP in Nizamabadand Karimnagar and picked up a significant number of ZPTCs in Medak and Warangal. TheTD leaders acknowledged that they underestimated the strength of the TRS in Telengana andthat of the Congress in coastal districts. The TDP won the posts of chairpersons of 12 Zilla Parishads (Srikakulam, East Godavari,West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam, Anantapur, Kurnool, Ranga Reddi,Mahabubnagar, Warnagal, and Adilabad); the Congress eight (Vizianagaram,Visakhapatnam, Nellore, Cuddapah, Chittoor, Nalgonda, Medak, and Khammam); and theTRS in two (Nizamabad and Karimnagar). In the elections held for the post of Mandalpresidents, the TDP’s nominees were elected presidents of 480 (44.3 per cent) Mandals, theCongress 434 (40 per cent) Mandals, the BJP in 8 (0.74 per cent), the CPI in 17 (1.6 percent), the CPI(M) in 20 (1.9 per cent) and the TRS in 83 (7.7 per cent). Out of 1094 ZPTCs inthe State the TDP secured 512, the Congress 446, the BJP 13, the CPI 8, the CPI(M) 15, theBSP 3 and the TRS 84. Out of 14580 MPTCs to which elections were held the TDP secured6351, the Congress 5651, the BJP 279, the CPI 204, the CPI(M) 280, the BSP 30 and theTRS 1043. In the elections to the posts of sarpanches of the village panchayats, although theywere held on non-party basis, the TDP claimed that candidates either belonging to it or withthe TDP backing, were successful in 10,080 out 21,431 village panchayats, working out to 47per cent. For the sake of comparison it may be mentioned that in the last panchayat electionsheld in 1995, the TDP captured all the 22 Zilla Parishads, 653 (63 per cent) of the MandalParishads, 694 ZPTCs (67 per cent) and 7227 (51.2 per cent) of the MPTCs. The Congress atthat time won a meagre 283 (27.3 per cent) Mandal president positions, 274 (26 per cent) ofthe ZPTCs and 4696 (33 per cent) of the MPTCs (Table 7). A region-wise analysis of the election results shows that the TDP secured 232 (55 percent) of the ZPTCs, and 3229 (50 per cent) of the MPTCs in coastal Andhra, 123 (53 percent) and 1373 (50 per cent) in Rayalaseema, and 157(35 per cent) and 1749 (32 per cent) inTelengana. The Congress surpassed the TDP in Telengana both in the number of ZPTCs andthe MPTCs, while it came very close to the TDP in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.
53Although there are some limitations in drawing inferences by comparing the performance ofpolitical parties in two elections, held at two different levels and at two different points oftime, a comparison of the voting pattern in the 1999 Assembly elections and the 2001panchayat elections would reveal certain aspects which are interesting. The TDP lost heavilyin terms of number of seats (both the ZPTCs and MPTCs) although there was no loss in votepercentage, while the Congress made impressive gains, although its vote share had not goneup (Table 8). In the coastal Andhra the TDP gained marginally over the Assembly performance bysecuring 49.46 per cent vote while the Congress improved by about 4 per cent by securing45.97 per cent vote. In the Rayalaseema region both the parties stood their ground. InTelengana region both the TDP and the Congress suffered a slide, but the loss of Congressvote is substantial. In the 1999 Assembly elections the Congress polled slightly more votesthan the TDP in Telengana region. This time the TDP had the satisfaction of polling morevotes than its principal adversary, the Congress, with a share of 35.36 per cent votescompared to that of the Congress’ 32.52. However, the TDP won only 157 ZPTCs against164 by the Congress and 84 by the TRS. The loss suffered by all the major political parties isroughly equal to the votes secured – 20.44 per cent -- by the TRS, (including 9.74 per centsuffered by the Congress, 5.91 per cent by the TDP, 1.49 per cent by the CPI, 0.48 per centby the CPI(M), and 0.35 per cent by the BJP). Thus the percentages of votes secured by thetwo rival parties in the State do not indicate any major shift, compared with the 1999Assembly elections, in the voting pattern in the State, although the Telengana has become adeviant case, due to the entry of the TRS (Table 8). The voting figures reflect a highlypolarized political situation in the State. However, one outstanding feature of these panchayat elections is that the apparentelectoral supremacy of the TDP, which it got in the 1999 Assembly elections due to thearithmetic of electoral alliances, got exposed. Now in the local body elections, since the sizeof the territorial constituencies is much smaller, the actual strengths of various parties got atruer reflection. At the same time the verdict cannot be termed as a ‘defeat’ of the TDPbecause (a) the percentage of votes polled by it in this election was slightly more than thepercentage of votes it polled in the 1999 Assembly elections; (b) to retain the samepercentage of votes two years after Assembly elections, despite whatever anti-establishmentsentiment that might have crept in, is something creditable for a ruling party; (c) the TDPcould checkmate the Congress onslaught at a time when the latter is in an upbeat mood afterwinning the recent Assembly elections in other States and the NDA government is indisarray; and (d) winning about half the positions in the PR bodies, where several local andregional factors play rather an important role, is not an easy affair, given the constraints underwhich the TDP functions. Also, it cannot be termed as a verdict against the policies of theTDP. The assumption that voters exercise their vote based on an evaluation of parties’policies and what good they do to the society at large. The economic reform policies of theTDP government were not an issue, since the available alternative party, i.e., the Congress,too adhered to similar policy framework, although it might differ with the specific mode oftheir implementation by the TDP’s government. But then the question remains as to why the TDP could not perform as well as wasexpected by its own leadership. There are few takers of the contention, put forth byChandrababu himself, that the party’s setback was due to the failure of the party and ofhimself to properly project the welfare schemes implemented by the TDP government and thepositive side of economic reforms, because the party has spent enormous amounts of moneyon publicity and he himself toured extensively conducting the election campaign. Political
54commentators and party persons pointed out several local factors for the poor performance ofthe TDP, such as lack of coordination among local leaders, factional animosities, back-stabbing, caste factor, dislike for local legislators or leaders and selection of unworthy andineffective candidates. But these are there on the Congress side too, perhaps with lessintensity because it is in opposition, but they alone do not explain the election outcome. One important factor that seemed to have played a crucial role in the setback to the TDPand the impressive electoral gains for the Congress was the forging of electoral alliancebetween the Congress and the Left parties on the one hand and the falling away of the TDP-BJP alliance on the other. With a substantial following in the urban areas the TDP-BJPcombine could post impressive electoral victory in the 1999 Assembly elections. The socialbase of the BJP is very thin in the rural areas of AP. The assurance of the Congress to supplyfree power to the farmers might have weaned away some more votes from the TDP. Thereare also other problems on which the TDP has little control, such as poor crops, lack ofremunerative prices for agricultural produce, rising prices, plight of farmers and suicide byweavers, etc., which might have caused damage to the TDP’s electoral chances in the ruralareas. Two points mentioned by some TDP leaders are worth consideration in this context. Oneis that reservations for the backward castes in the panchayati raj bodies had reduced theelectoral advantage of the political parties heavily dependent on the significant support ofthese social groups. The TDP has been heavily dependent on the votes of the backwardcastes, which constitute about 40 per cent of AP population, and also the women vote. Sincereservations were provided to the BCs in the panchayat elections and the Congress too put upstrong BC candidates in the places allotted to the BCs, the TDP might have lost some of itsedge among the BCs. A split in the BC vote might have gone to the advantage of theCongress, so the argument goes. The second point is that the welfare schemes need not always fetch votes; instead theycould become counter-productive under unfavourable circumstances. When welfare schemeswere excessively publicized but little was done or doing it in a way that gives rise todissatisfaction among the beneficiaries and a feeling of deprivation among the non-beneficiaries might cause damage to the ruling party. For instance the deepam scheme waslaunched with great fanfare and 2 lakh L.P.gas connections were distributed at subsidizedprice. But later those who got a connection found it difficult to buy gas regularly because ofthe ‘high’ cylinder price. Similarly in the construction of houses for weaker sections, thebeneficiary faces several hurdles in getting his name included, securing the subsidy, andensuring proper construction. He has to bribe many in the process, finds it faultily constructedand ends up a dissatisfied person. We cannot say that beneficiaries of welfare schemes wouldinvariably vote for the ruling party. If that were the case, NTR, with his large-scale welfareschemes of subsidized rice, cloth and pucca houses, would not have been suffered a jolt in the1987 and the 1995 panchayat elections. Even consider the case of Kuppam, the Assemblyconstituency represented by the Chief Minister. Most people there would readily say thattheir area has experienced tremendous improvement in terms of infrastructure, drinking waterand other benefits after Chandrababu became the CM, but the majority for the TDP there wasreduced to about 25,000 votes in the ZPTCs compared to about 65,000 votes in the Assemblyelections; and in Kuppam town, putting together all the four MPTCs in the town, the TDPcould get a majority of 235 votes only. What appears to be instructive in this election process relates to the leadership style ofChandrababu and the functioning of the TDP. While it is important to note that Chandrababu
55wields both the positions of president of the ruling party and Chief Minister, what is moreimportant is the way the party and the government are operated. No doubt Chandrababu hasbeen widely acknowledged as a competent organizer. But after 1996 the TDP came to beidentified with him, much in the same way it was identified with NTR. But NTR had a massappeal and exercised a great deal of personal authority in the party. With a view tocompensate the NTR’s qualities of charisma and oratorical skills, Chandrababu relied moreupon the organizational network, his abilities at the management of men, hard work andpublicity, where he is perceived to be strong. While most of the party leaders agree thatChandrababu is an all-important leader, his image of all in all as if no body else mattered inthe party and government and his virtual monopoly of power came to be resented. Had itbeen the Congress the disgruntled leaders could have had an outlet in appealing to the centralleaders. But in the TDP case, the `State’ leadership itself is the `central’ leadership. The otherleaders have to either shut up and put up or get out of the party. Further, Chandrababu’s reliance on the bureaucratic machinery more than the partyleaders and elected representatives for advice, information and decision-making became asource of heart burning among the latter. A feeling that a ‘bureaucratic raj’ prevails in theState, that bureaucrats give scant respect to political functionaries and that the bureaucratswere mainly emboldened due to the style of functioning of the CM gained ground among thedistrict and local leaders of the party as their image, standing and authority suffered. Oftendriven by considerations of bestowing patronage over their clientele, exercise of power overothers and also money-making, most of the local leaders get frustrated and demoralized whenthey are denied access to these avenues. Besides, the bureaucrats are also not an embodimentof virtue, talent and objectivity. The bureaucratic corruption has assumed as ominousproportion as that of political corruption. One would ask, then, where is the justification forgiving more prominence to bureaucrats over politicians in a democracy, where thebureaucrats should learn to obey the instructions of the elected representatives? The Telugu Desam president constituted a committee to identify factors responsible forthe below par performance of the party in the panchayat elections and to recommendcorrective measures. Given the party structure and functioning this introspection exercisemight not lead to any promising outcome. Most of the TDP leaders, and even some of theopposition leaders, say that lessons have to be learnt from the verdict in the panchayatelections. But the big question is that whether the party is in a position to draw lessons in anobjective manner and how to implement them. Chandrababu says that the party organizationshould be further strengthened. The party leaders want to end the feeling of alienationprevailing among the intermediary leaders, look for a more open party system, an increasedrole in decision-making process, more power for themselves, and higher access to the meansof profit and patronage. Thus the TDP faces several dilemmas. First, how to deconcentratepowers both in the party and government? Is it possible in the given circumstances and withwhat consequences? Second, Chandrababu says that there is no question of going back oneconomic reforms. But some leaders speak against the reform process, which according tothem had alienated the poor from the party. A reversal of the reform process might knock outthe pedestal on which the present TDP government rests. Another dilemma is to strengthenthe panchayati raj bodies, by transferring constitutionally stipulated powers to them andgiving more importance to elected representatives at that level. But such a course wouldundermine the leverage the central leadership now enjoys, loosens its control, besides givingmore room for the Congress party in political power, which controls almost as manypanchayat bodies as the TDP now. The TDP appears to have been caught in thecontradictions of its own creation, both within the party and governmental structures. These
56dilemmas are not easy to overcome, much less to resolve, but the success of the TDP woulddepend on how its leadership would address them in future. As far as the Congress is concerned, although in its outward appearance it looks like amotley crowd without any cohesive leadership, it is extremely strong in having a multitude ofautonomous local leaders, with considerable hold in their respective areas, a remarkablecapacity for articulation, extraordinary ability to join ranks with each other at crucial timesand an enviable skill at voter mobilization. Reared in the age-old Congress culture of freelypursuing the interest of the self and the group, manipulation and bargaining, these politicalentrepreneurs are also adept at the process of consultation, compromise and consensus. Sinceit is a national party it has no ‘high command’ at the State level, unlike the TDP. Althoughthe organizational elections in the Congress party are seldom held, quite unlike the TDP,communist parties or the BJP, its consensus approach makes it more democratic in itsfunctioning – democracy understood here as accommodating diverse interests, viewpointsand groups and also allowing freedom of dissent. Depending upon the circumstancesfactionalism, localism and competing factions could be a weakness of the party or itsstrength. Even in its worst days it has a minimal support base of about one-third of theelectorate in Andhra Pradesh, sufficient to regain the ground and stage a comeback. It hassome committed traditional supporters, who would like to vote for the Congress only and noparty else. It also enjoys an overwhelming support of a powerful array of social forces in APsociety. The Congress party is once again knocking at the doors of the TDP proclaiming itsreadiness to occupy the treasury benches in the Assembly. The party has establishedmajorities in about 100 Assembly constituencies in rural areas, which include 50constituencies where the TDP or the BJP secured majorities in the 1999 Assembly elections.This is the best performance of the party in any panchayat elections after the emergence ofthe TDP in the State’s political arena. There is a jubilant mood in the Congress circles.Leader of the CLP, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, said that the result of the panchayat electionswas only a ‘beginning’ and that it would continue in that direction. The Congress leadersmaintain that the party is poised to stage a comeback. However, both the president of theState Congress and the leader of the CLP feel that the party has to overcome its‘organizational deficiencies’, meaning thereby groupism and indiscipline in their party. Butthe question is can they do it? Can the Congress become a real alternative to the TDP? In this panchayat elections the Left parties have regained some lost ground, especially intheir strongholds – Khammam and Nalgonda districts. Having got stigmatized for hanging onto the coat tiles of the TDP supremo for too long a time and dwarfed under the shadow ofNTR, who stood like a banyan tree over them, the Left parties are relearning, although withgreat difficulty, to stand independently. It is ironical that the Left parties, which, theoreticallyspeaking, stand for a highly centralized party organization and state structure, have come tochampion the cause of decentralization of power, a cause which has been vouchsafed by theGandhians and socialists in this country. They have been commending the West Bengal andKerala model of decentralized administration for adoption by other States. The worst loser in this election was the BJP. The results show that there was a deeperosion of the BJP all over the State. Reports indicate that the BJP cadre had deserted theparty to join the TRS bandwagon. The party, which secured 28 per cent of popular vote in the1998 Lok Sabha election in Telengana region, had to be content with 13 ZPTCs (with 2.36per cent vote) this time. It has yielded much of the political space it occupied earlier to otherparties, especially the Congress in coastal Andhra and TRS in Telengana regions. Caught in
57the constraints of running an insecure coalition government at the Centre, precariouslydependent on the TDP for its survival, the BJP’s central leadership allowed itself to beoutwitted by the TDP and over time forced, what the some State leaders say, a political hara-kiri over the state unit. The TRS has emerged as a strong force in Telengana. Although it won majority of ZPTCsin one district (Nizamabad) only, it was responsible for a situation where no party securedmajorities in most of the Telengana districts. But the panchayat elections also showed that theTRS does not enjoy as much support as it boasted. Even though backwardness of the regionwas the main plank for the TRS in its campaign for a separate Telengana State, interestingly,the TRS failed to make any impact in Adilabad and Mahabubnagar districts, among the mostbackward in the region. However, the TRS chief said that he was concerned not so muchabout the PR bodies or the outcome of the panchayat elections, but more to show that theTelengana people want a separate State and ‘to weaken Chandrababu Naidu, the enemy ofseparate Telengana.’ But the main rival for the TRS is not the TDP but the Congress party, because the TRSand the Congress are adopting the same postures on the Telengana issue; targeting the samesections of people for electoral support and addressing the same concerns in pursuit ofpolitical power. The leadership of the Congress in the Telengana has been championing thecause of separate State since the TDP came back to power in October 1999. The PCCpresident himself stated that he was in favour of a separate State. The Congress leaderscampaigned in the panchayat elections with the slogan of separate State and with the map ofseparate Telengana in the backdrop. As a part of the game of one-upmanship there has been awar of words between the Congress and the TRS, each trying to belittle the other andclaiming that a separate Telengana is possible only under its leadership. Chandrasekhara Raocalled the Congress leaders traitors of Telengana and worse than villains, while the Congressleaders called the TRS chief a power hungry and unreliable politician. It is clear that eachcould gain only at the cost of the other and to the extent one could replace the other. That isthe reason why after the election results were out, the Congress and the TRS, despite muchspeculation, could not reach an understanding to capture the ZP chairs in some of theTelengana districts, where they could have formed majority if they came together. Of late, there are initiatives to devolve more powers to the PRIs and to restructure thevillage administrative system. The introduction of Grama Sachivalayam (Village Secretariat)has begun. With appointment of secretaries to the village panchayats, who would work underthe sarpanch, the two parallel posts of VAO and VDO have been done away with. CMconsidered it to be a radical measure, same as that of the Mandal system introduced by NTRin 1986 to ‘take the administration to the doorstep of the people’. Under the new convergenceformula, the government thinks that the new system would achieve the goal of renderingfaster, quicker and efficient service to the rural people. The village secretary is expected tohandle the gram panchayat, revenue, development and welfare subjects. VIII Concluding Observations The study of elections in Andhra Pradesh during the last 50 years enable us to understandthe major issues and trends that could be seen in Indian politics in the post-Independenceperiod, though with variations that pertain to the specificity of the State. Elections provide anopportunity for the political parties to present to the people their past performance and future
58programmes. They became the agency for the democratization of the society and politics, asthey brought politics within the sphere of the common man and common man into thepolitical arena. They played a central role in mobilizing millions of people into the politicalprocess, crystallizing the public opinion on a host of issues, institutional functioning andstyles of leadership, and in the emergence and recruitment of new political elite. They haveinfluenced the ways in which the priorities of the political parties and the broad parametres ofthe incumbent government were laid down. They also caused changes in the existing policies of the government, because rejection orrenewal of a regime means rejection or acceptance of a political leadership. It was primarilybecause of the compulsions of the electoral politics that the political parties adopted pro-people policies, with an eye either to consolidate their existing electoral base or securesupport from newer sections. Even in the time of market reforms, to which ChandrababuNaidu was seen as an important advocate, the government is compelled to carry on welfareprogrammes and the rival political parties have to compete each other in projectingthemselves as protectors of the interests of the poor and the disadvantaged. Electoral supportcan be mobilized on emotional grounds and the feelings based on caste, faction, gender,religion and region, but such attempts have to be backed by some tangible welfare benefits tothe members of these groups. The very implementation of the economic reforms have to bejustified by the political parties on the ground that they enable the government to spend moreon people’s welfare. In this section an attempt is made to review the broad trends, majorfactors and issues in AP State politics and elections. One may begin with the nature of the emergence of the State itself, because politics inAndhra Pradesh reflect, to some extent, the dilemmas faced in redrawing the political map ofIndia and the issues present in the continuous reconfiguration of the federal structure.Formation of Andhra Pradesh was a result of a protracted struggle for a separate statehood forthe Telugu speaking ‘nation’. The movement was first of its kind in post-Independent India,and provided the backdrop for the electoral battles in 1952, 1955 and 1957. The leaders of theAndhra movement argued in favour of strong and autonomous States in a true federation,where each of the federating units could develop equally and successfully and cooperate witheach other. Their vision of future India was a federation, called ‘United States of India’,which strives to discover a general harmony among communities, presenting a variety ofstructure and development. The communists too were not far behind the Congress leaders inadvocating Telugu nationalism. In fact they tried to outdo the Congress in championing thedemand for regional autonomy and greater Andhra. It is interesting how the communistscould reconcile their theory of a highly centralized party organization and the demand for atrue federal polity. This Telugu nationalist pride was one of the bases for the emergence of a regional party inthe early 80s, which changed the entire course of State politics and the nature of relationsbetween the Centre and the State. Its founder, NTR, called it a party of the Telugu nation(desam). It achieved a spectacular victory in the 1983 elections based on the slogan ofpreserving the self-respect of the Telugu people, the demand for more powers to the Statesand opposition to the excessive Centre’s interference. It could weld together the non-Congress political forces and galvanize the anti-Congress sentiment among the electorate.NTR could repeatedly invoke the theme of Telugu self-respect whenever he was in trouble,as was evident in his struggle to keep power during 1984-89. Interestingly AP remained a bastion of the Congress party for a very long time, even whennon-Congress parties could successfully challenge its supremacy and come into power in
59several other States, despite the fact that the non-Congress opposition was strong in the Stateduring the early years after Independence. It took more time in the State for the breakdown ofthe one party dominant system. With the emergence of the regional party the State ceased tobe merely an arena for the warring factions of the Congress party. A veritable two-partysystem had come to stay with in few years after the emergence of the TDP. The TDP, whichwas thought to be a transient phenomenon, if not an aberration, in the initial period of itsemergence, became an enduring feature of State politics. Those who hoped that it would diewith NTR also proved to be wrong. It not only survived NTR, but also consolidated itself.Nor did it disintegrate in the wake of the splits with rival claims for the inheritance of hislegacy. But the attempts to institutionalize two regional parties, in the style of neighbouringTamil Nadu politics, were not successful in AP. As far as State politics are concerned theTDP remains a major force and the national parties are compelled to co-exist with theregional party, either as partners or contenders for power. The Congress party has beenharping on the harm a regional party would cause to the State and the need to elect the sameparty at the State and the Central levels to build a strong and united India. While the BJP’svision of India might conflict with the reality of different regional parties ruling in the States,each claiming to represent the will and aspirations of specific nationalities, the party leadershave learnt to live with the TDP in the State. The Left parties too had alliance with the Stateparty for much of the time after it came into existence, before parting their ways in 1999elections. The survival of the TDP depends upon its ability to maintain its image as therepresentative of the Telugu people working for the development of the State. Opposed to this Telugu nationalism one finds in the State strong tendencies ofregionalism, which affected State politics and electoral outcomes several times. If one callsAP a region in India and TDP a regional party, the regionalism in AP has to be called sub-regionalism and the parties such as the TPS of 1969-72 or TRS now as sub-regional parties.But, given the specificity of the State, this phenomenon in this essay is called regionalism.The formation of the integrated Andhra Pradesh had passed through several stages and after agood deal of bargaining, political maneuvering and a series of compromises made by theleaders of the three regions – coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telengana. Given the unequaldevelopment between the regions at the time of State formation and other social and culturalfactors that gave a distinct identity to these regions, the possibility of living in a united Statewas doubted from the beginning by the leaders of Rayalaseema and Telengana. Some timesthe regional identities and interests were so worked up that led to mutual distrust and ill willamong the people of the different regions. Two militant and violent separatist agitations rocked the State during the late 1960s andearly 70s. They almost threatened the very survival of the State. The agitations were spurredmore by power considerations of dissidents and factional leaders of the Congress party takingadvantage of the perceived fears among the people of the regions. Only the communists stoodfirmly for the integrated State. In the last one year the rebel TDP leader, who later formed theTRS, has been spearheading an active campaign for separate Telengana, saying that thedomination of the leaders and people of coastal Andhra region was mainly responsible for theproblems of Telengana region, such as backwardness, unemployment and lack ofinfrastructure facilities. The entry of the TRS in the political arena in a big way and itsimpressive performance in panchayat elections had unsettled the major political parties in theState. The huge margin with which the TRS leader won the Siddipet bye-election in 2001revealed the extent to which the demand for separate Telengana could command support.Several of the Congress and the BJP leaders from the Telengana region are vying with eachother to project themselves as the defenders of the Telengana interests. The performance of
60the TRS, the floating of new outfits by the leaders of the BJP (Telengana Sadhana Samathilaunched by the BJP MP Narendra) and the Congress (Telengana Congress LegislatorsForum) show that regional factor remains a potent force and a issue for political mobilizationin the State in the years to come. The demand for a separate State may have to be tackledboth at the political and policy levels. Faction is another important factor that influenced the functioning of political parties,especially the Congress party, the government and the electoral process. The single membersimple plurality (SMSP) principle in elections did not give rise to two party system in AP fora long time. It could be due to the ability of the Congress party in the initial decades afterIndependence to accommodate diverse groups and interests in the party fold. These diversegroups and interests had operated within the factional structure of the Congress party, aspointed out by several analysts of Indian politics. The Congress party in AP, like most otherStates in India, was never a united one. The intra-party affairs of the Congress were moreoften shaped by factional rivalries than considerations of ideology or principles. Factionalrivalry in AP cannot be said to be due to Congress dominance, what came to known as one-party dominant system. Factionalism was rife in the Congress during 1952-57, when therewas stiff opposition from communists and others. The success of the Communist party in the1952 elections was partly attributed to the division in the Congress leadership. At timesfactionalism threatened the survival of the Congress government in Andhra State, and in fact,the Congress government collapsed in 1955 because of factional strife. But we also find thatthe Congress had the tremendous capacity to reabsorb the breakaway groups back into theparty fold soon after the elections are over or with some compromise between the ‘official’ ordominant group and the dissident groups. Factions had also exhibited the tendency to forgesome amount of unity during the time of elections. Most of the observers analyzed APpolitics during the 1960s and 1970s on the basis of dynamics of factions within the Congress.Factionalism did contribute to the democratic character to the Congress party, although itbecame uncontrollable and ended up in a free for all situation. By 1970s we find that factionalism in the Congress had lost its mobilizational andintegrative function and proved to be counter productive. The two separatist agitationsrevealed how factional leaders operate to fulfil their interests. There appeared a direct relationbetween increased concentration of decision-making powers in the hands of Central leadersand the increase in the factional strife in the State units. As a result the respect that Stateleaders, such as Chief Ministers and presidents of the party in the State, commanded also gotdiluted. During 1980-82 the leaders of the State Congress Legislature Party were changedthree times in a period of three years. The preoccupation of the factional leaders inimpressing the ‘High Command’, changing the CMs and securing ministerships and othercoveted positions in the government dissipated the energies of the State and local leaders,even it made them insensitive to people’s feelings of disgust towards politics. Encouragementof factions by the Central leaders, erosion of inner-party democracy, systematic destruction ofState level leadership with some self-respect and extreme disregard for ethical valuescombined together to discredit the Congress party. Factionalism in the Congress party did notend with its defeat in 1983 and the emergence of a strong rival in State politics in the form ofthe TDP. In 1989 elections the factional leaders could forge temporary unity, and partlybecause of that they could win the elections at that time. Once again factionalism becamerampant afterwards. The factionalism in the party when it was in power during 1989-94brought back a situation similar to the one prevailed prior to 1983. Some of the top Congressleaders admit that factionalism has become a curse for the Congress party, especially when itis faced with the formidable rival, the TDP. The chances of the Congress party to regain
61power would increase if it could enforce some amount of discipline in the party and restrictthe open factional rivalries. Factions do exist in the Telugu Desam Party too, but to a lesser extent and operate in adifferent manner. Congress is a national party and so factions in the Congress exist withlinkages from State to the local level, so far they do not question the supremacy of the HighCommand. Since the TDP is a State party, factions cannot exist at the State level or operateagainst the wishes of the leader of the party – NTR till 1995 and Chandrababu Naiduafterwards. They operate at the district level with one or the other Ministers in the Cabinet asthe mentor. NTR exercised supreme power and no leader or faction could exist disregardingNTR’s authority. The caste factor has acquired importance in State politics due to the expansion ofdemocracy and the logic of electoral politics. Attempts to forge horizontal solidarity amongcastemen were made by the elite of almost all the major caste groups in Andhra region,including some of the now backward and dalit castes, by way of forming caste associations inthe first half of 20th century (Suri, 2000). The non-Brahman movement, Justice party politics,agrarian struggles and the freedom movement produced among the peasant communitiestalented leaders adept at political mobilization and articulation. They became leaders of theCongress, communist and socialist parties at the State and local levels, but more so at thelocal level. Although the Brahman leadership was in control of the top positions in thegovernment immediately after Independence, they could not continue their hold for long dueto pressure from the emerging leaders from peasant communities and of democratic andelectoral politics. The abolition of the feudal land relations, enthusiastically carried out by theBrahman Congress leaders because most of the feudal landlords and intermediaries belong tonon-Brahman castes, in fact facilitated the rise of leaders from the rich/middle peasantbackground from the farming communities, such as the Reddis, Kammas, and Kapus. Such aprocess also helped the consolidation of the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh during the1950s and the decline of the communists and socialist parties. It has been pointed out byobservers of AP politics that while caste-class convergence explains the political success ofthe peasant castes, the electoral process itself contributed to reinforce their prominence. Thusthe first decade after Independence leaders from these communities could come to theforefront, brush aside the Brahman leaders in the political arena, control the Congress partyand occupy the driving seat in the government. Although such a process began late andacquired a different form in Telengana, the rise of Reddi and Velama leadership there wasimpressive. This process was also responsible for the changing character of the politicalleadership in the State. Studies on other States too have pointed out such replacement of thewestern educated, upper caste urbanized elite by the middle caste, provincial and more ruralelite. This process began much early in AP. But the leaders coming from peasantcommunities are not tradition bound, although they might have put the traditional identities topolitical use. They could handle the modern political institutions with reasonable efficiency. It is the existence of competing ‘dominant castes’, unlike other States in India, that gave aunique character to politics in the State. Several western and Indian scholars havecharacterized AP politics as essentially a struggle for political supremacy between the Reddisand the Kammas. This was said to have begun at the time of the formation of the State itself(some historians traced it to the developments in pre-British Andhra!). The tussle betweenSanjiva Reddy and Ranga for Congress leadership during 1948-51 was cited as a majorinstance in this regard. The eventual exit of Ranga from the Congress was treated as anindication of the final settlement of the rivalry in favour of the Reddis, who held their swayover the Congress in the decades to come. Long back Selig Harrison had argued that the
62Kammas joined the Communist party in order to oppose the Reddis who were found alreadydominating the Congress. The interpretation was that while the Reddis captured theleadership in the Congress, the Kammas had captured the leadership of the Communist party,since it was seen as a potential force to come into power. He had related the strategies of theKammas to acquire political dominance to the rise of the Communist party. However, others did not agree to this kind of interpretation. Rasheeduddin Khan observedthat all the dominant castes, particularly the Reddis and the Kammas, could be found invarying proportions in different competing parties, though it was true that there were moreReddis in the Congress than in other parties. He pointed out that in 1952 and 1955 electionsin Andhra there were more Kammas than the Reddis in the list of Congress candidates andthat more Kammas won as Congress rather than as Communist candidates in 1955. CarolynElliot also had pointed out that such a supposed rivalry did not exist in the State becausenormally elites of one caste dominate in a particular locality and the comparison of therepresentation of the Reddis and the Kammas in the Congress and the Communist partyduring the 50s reveal little variation. It might be true that a majority of the Kammas had beenanti-Congress and voted for the ‘opposition parties’ in the State, which included theCommunist party and the KLP and later the Swatantra party and more than a majority of theReddi were identified with the Congress and voted for it. Since the communist movementwas strong in the delta districts, where the Kammas were preponderant, the leaders hailingfrom this community naturally could be found in larger number in the Communist party. Butwe should also note that some of the ablest and top most leaders of the Communist partycame from Reddi and non-Kamma communities. The Kamma-Reddi rivalry thesis, althoughtempting, makes one to overlook the complexity involved in the dynamics of the AP societyand politics. Some tried to explain the emergence of the TDP too in terms of Kamma-Reddi rivalry.One argument was the Kammas backed the TDP because they had been longing for powerand were aggrieved that the Reddis had dominated the political scene for too long a time inthe State (Kohli, 1991). According to this line of analysis the Kammas never had a CM in theState even though they grew economically strong accumulating surpluses in agriculture,industry, cine field, hotel and liquor business, etc. Since the chances for a Kamma to becomeCM in the Congress were bleak, the Kammas chose to support the TDP. It might be true thatmore than a majority of the Kammas might have sided with NTR, but that was hardly enoughto see the TDP in power. A overwhelming majority of the backward caste populationsupported NTR because of the feeling prevalent among them that the policies of Mrs. Gandhiwere mainly aimed at capturing the votes of the dalits and that little was done by theCongress for the development of the backward castes, even though the proportion of theneedy among the BCs was considerably high. Even the TDP leaders earlier admitted that theBC vote was the mainstay for the party’s success in the elections. Leaders of the Congress and the TDP are aware that in AP no party could hope of winningan election if it banks exclusively on the support of any one caste, since no caste in the Statehas even 10 per cent of the population (even assuming that all caste people vote for the sameparty) or if it is seen as the party exclusively of a particular community. Parties in AP appearto seek forge stable multi-caste alliances: for instance Congress was seen as a party mainlybased on the Reddis, supported by the Brahmans, the Vysyas and the dalits, while the TDPlook for support from the Kammas and the backward castes. Kapu vote became crucial in thelast two decades. Late 1980s and early 90s saw the emergence of the Kapu movement for agreater share in political power. Some of them would say that Brahmans, Reddis, Velamas,Kammas, BCs and dalits had their man as the CM, and now it should be the turn of the Kapus
63to have their person to head the government. But the problem is that they do not have a singleleader who can unite them to stake a claim for the CM’s position. The growth of political awareness and participation among the BCs and the dalits since the1970s was striking in AP politics. This was partly attributed in the initial years to Mrs.Gandhi’s strategy of drawing these communities into the Congress fold to undermine the holdof the provincial potentates who hailed mainly from the intermediate land owingcommunities. Their increasing assertion could be also due to the emergence of elite amongthese communities with increased access to land, wealth, education and employment.Although there have been occasional clashes between caste groups at the village level, theseneed not be construed as a result of feudal oppression, but as a result of growing assertion ofthe increasing strength of the dalits to contest the dominance of the peasant communities.Most of the backward castes have their own statewide associations and they try to putpressure on all political parties to field more number of candidates from their communities.Appeals have become common where the caste associations ask their caste people to vote fortheir caste candidates, irrespective of the party affiliation of the candidate. In 1980s we sawthe emergence of autonomous dalit organizations fighting for the cause of the dalits,especially in the aftermath of the attacks against them in several villages by the upper castes,which, according to them, were abetted by the members of the ruling parties – both the TDPand the Congress. The political parties have been making concerted efforts to mobilize thevotes of these communities, by co-opting leaders from these communities and encouragingthese leaders to take an active part in the caste associations of these communities. Thedexterity with which the political parties accommodated the representatives of the socialbackward classes and castes, including dalits and tribals, is quite impressive. At some criticalmoments the society appears to be a boiling cauldron but the tensions were not allowed toreach a boiling point. The provision of reservations to the BCs, SCs and STs in the local bodies is a bigexperiment in democratizing grass root politics in the State. It has already brought a radicalchange in the landscape of caste politics of the State, with thousands of persons from thesecommunities sitting on the representative bodies at every level and getting trained in the craftof politics. In due course of time they would certainly look for positions at the State level.The more backward among the backward and the dalits are also becoming assertive, makingthe caste question more complicated. The struggle by the Madigas for categorization of SCreservations based on sub-castes and for a ‘due share’ in political power brought to the forethe issue of ensuring justice within the disadvantaged groups. How the tensions between thecontradictory pressures from competing social groups to broaden political democracy will beresolved remains a big challenge to the political elite in the State. The CSDS data for the 1996, 1998 and 1999 elections show that the voters of every castewere divided between the Congress and the TDP. There were variations in the proportion ofsupport enjoyed by these two parties among different castes. With the emergence of the BJPthere was a big shift of upper caste vote in its favour from the Congress. That is the reasonwhy we see nearly two-thirds of the upper caste vote going to the TDP-BJP combine in the1999 elections. TDP has been consistently polling more percentage of votes among the BCs.Its vote was higher among the peasant OBCs. Among the dalits the TDP has been pollingconsistently low percentage of votes when compared to the Congress. It could secure onlyone-third of the SC vote in the 1998 and 1999 elections. The categorization of thereservations for the SCs might have helped the TDP to retain support of some dalit sections,despite of the alliance of the TDP with the BJP.
64 However, one should be also cautious in estimating the role of caste in electoral politics.Caste is not the sole factor that influences the voter’s decision. It should be seen only as oneamong several factors that matter to the voters. Increasing urbanization, occupationalmobility, classification within the castes, voters ability to take decisions on the basis ofindividual interest, leaders qualities and performance, and concern for certain basic values oflife and issues in the society, etc. make caste less salient in elections. Caste does not operatelike a monolith, at least in all situations, as some would imagine. People of a caste in theState rarely vote en masse to any single candidates or party. In CSDS post-poll survey (1999LS elections) when the voters were asked about the basis of their voting, only about 6 percent of voters in AP said that caste is an important factor; more than a majority mentionedparty as important factor. Even when a large number of voters of a particular caste vote for aparticular party or candidate, they do so not because of mere sentimentality. Most of themvote for a party or candidate, as guided by local leaders, due to a belief that these leaders orparties would be helpful to them in case they need some help – to secure a loan, a seat ineducational institution or a job to his children or oneself, or a benefit from government orcommunity or support in individual problems. The fluctuations and shifts in electoral supportamong various communities for different parties are also worthy of consideration in thisregard. Electoral system, especially the simple plurality system, compels parties to gathersupport from as many social groups as possible and hinders the emergence of parties basedexclusively on a single caste. On the whole the major feature of State politics in the post-Independence period appearsthat the intermediate peasant castes dominate the political scene and it is likely to continue infuture, because of the social and economic structure of the AP. But it was also marked byincreased place for the representatives of the backward castes and the dalits and it is likelythat their say would increase in the years to come. It all depends how the leaders from the‘dominant’ communities accommodate the rising aspirations of the representatives of thebackward castes and the dalits by delicately balancing the diverse interests and social groups.The political leadership in AP proved to be mature enough to negotiate with the changes thathave been taking place over the time. Unlike in some States, we do not find in AP caste basedparties, although caste still plays an important role in the decisions of the voters. Both the Congress and the TDP enjoy a heterogeneous and diversified social, economicand demographic base, in terms of party membership and local leaders. Electoral supportcomes from different castes, classes, religious denominations and occupational groups.Women and youth are also divided between the rival parties. TDP seems to have lost somesupport among Muslims after it has entered alliance with the BJP. It is interesting to note,based on the CSDS post poll survey data, that the TDP secured less percentage of votesamong the upper and middle classes than the Congress, despite the prevalent perception thatthe economic reforms implemented by TDP government under the leadership ofChandrababu Naidu were mostly welcomed by and benefit these classes. This was true of1996 and 1998 elections. In 1999 elections too TDP secured much less vote among themiddle classes; it secured more votes among the upper classes, and this could be attributed tothe alliance with the BJP. In fact the TDP secured consistently higher percentage of votesamong the ‘very poor’. In a way to reinforce this trend we notice that Chandrababu’s TDPsecured more votes among the illiterates than among the highly educated. What do thesefigures indicate? Is there no relation between the economic reforms, which allegedly goagainst the interests of the poor, and the way different classes vote in State elections? Howcould Chandrababu persuade the poor vote for him? Why did the middle classes vote inlarger proportion to the Congress instead of the TDP, to which, theoretically speaking, they
65should have voted? Are the middle and the upper classes convinced that the economicreforms would be any way implemented, irrespective of the party and leader in power? Arethe poor induced by the short-term allurements in the form of welfare schemes to vote for theTDP? It is also interesting to note that the vote for the TDP among women has not also gonedown despite the fact that the TDP lifted ban on liquor, for which women have waged anagitation not very long ago. Further studies are required to seek answers to some of the aboveaspects of electoral politics in the State. The decline in the electoral support enjoyed by the communist parties is another majoraspect of electoral politics in the State in the last five decades. In the 1950s nowhere else inIndia the Communist party was as strong as in AP. At that time the communists launchedmilitant struggles both in Telengana and Andhra regions for agrarian reform and radicalreconstruction of social relations. The ideology of the party gripped a large number of youthfrom the well-to-do sections. Earlier (1940s and 1950s) the communists had a strong baseamong the peasant and urban working class, especially the dalits. The Communist partyduring those days was dubbed as the party of the dalits. The popularity of the party was clearfrom the margins with which some of its candidates won in the 1952 and 1955 elections.Why the communists could not consolidate their strength in the integrated State of APremains a big question. Reasons could be many and they might have worked in combination. The social and political transformation the State had witnessed after Independence couldbe one reason. History tells us that the communists were successful in countries where theycould combine the social revolution and national liberation struggle under their leadership. Incolonial societies it was not a question of transition from capitalism to socialism, but one oftransition from pre-capitalist stage to one of democratic stage. It was precisely at this criticaljuncture of the inability of the ‘liberal’ parties to provide leadership to the freedom struggle,the communists gained in strength and staged successful revolutions. But in India it was theCongress that provided leadership to the freedom struggle in the country at large and thecommunists could never establish their hegemony over freedom struggle. After Independencethe election process, which was fairly open and competitive, weakened the communistopposition in the political system, as people began to exercise their right to chooserepresentatives. Also the Congress party in the State had a mature and experiencedleadership. The party was able to accommodate the elites of the major communities in itsfold. They could counter the theory and practice of the communists in an effective manner.Immediately after coming to power, the Congress party undertook the task of restructuringthe society, nearly on the lines advocated by the Communist party. Some communiststhemselves hailed the agrarian reforms implemented in the Telengana region as progressive.Congress policies, with an orientation towards socialism and democracy, and theconstitutional guarantees for the weaker sections not only preempted the consolidation ofcommunist strength but also led to their electoral decline. Also the class politics have their own limits, especially operating in a democratic polity.Democratic institutions and reasonably fair and periodical elections seem to be inverselyrelated to political militancy. The changes in the social and economic conditions broughtabout by the democratically elected governments made the same classes, which earlier stoodwith the communists, to shift their political allegiance to the Congress. Communist party inAP was primarily based on the peasant classes, especially the middle peasantry. Certain ofthe demands on which the communists had mobilized the peasants were met with by theagrarian reforms. They were thus transformed from the status of tenants or exploited peasantsto proprietary peasants and as a consequence developed a stake in the existing society.Slogans of the communists ceased to be relevant motivators for these peasant classes. The
66implementation of the agrarian reform policies was a response to the militant land struggleswaged by the communists, but the same had undermined the electoral support for themamong the peasant classes. Paradoxical it might sound, but that appears to be somewhat true. But the question still remains unanswered, because under similar conditions that prevailedin post-Independent India, the communists in Kerala and West Bengal could consolidate theirstrength, but in AP they could not. Two additional factors might have contributed to thissituation. While in Kerala and West Bengal the communists had played the united fronttactics well, it was the Congress that played the UF tactics much better in AP in upstaging thecommunists in the State. The defeat of the communists in the ‘critical’ 1955 elections waspartly attributed to their failure to work out alliances with the non-Congress parties. Theythought that they could win the elections on their own. Similarly after the 1964 split, the twocommunist parties in Kerala and West Bengal could forge an alliance in the 1967 elections,but in AP they opposed each other. Both considered the elimination of the other moreimportant than defeating the Congress. Secondly the split in the Communist party was almostcomplete and vertical in AP, making it impossible for any of the two splinter parties tobecome dominant. The national leaders of the both the CPI and the CPM came from Andhra,making the fight all the more bitter. The same thing happened in 1967, when the cream of theCPM split away to form the CPIML groups. The second split had highly weakened the CPM,as the naxalite revolutionaries projected themselves as the true heirs of the communist legacyin the State. Till today the naxalite groups in AP are the strongest in India. The alliance with the TDP further weakened the left parties in the State. They adopted astrategy of taking the side of the TDP, instead of getting crushed in the fight between the twomighty parties, and take advantage out of it when one party became weak. But they were tooweak to take advantage of that sort. Their growth got further stunted under the shadow ofNTR who stood like a banyan tree over them. They were too ambivalent to assert theirindependence when the TDP became unpopular. During 1987-89 the CPI in Andhra waged avigorous campaign against the policies of the TDP, but had to take a volte-face just on theeve of the 1989 elections, as part of electoral alliances at the national level. Even when theirelectoral base was shaking and shifting as a result of alliance with the TDP the partiescontinued the alliance in the name of tactics. At times it became difficult to distinguishbetween the TDP and the Left voters, especially among the peasant communities, who foundthe alliance convenient. Some of the leaders were so accustomed to the positions andpatronage, available as junior partners of the TDP, that they became one with the ruling party.The left parties turned against the TDP only after the 1998 elections when the ChandrababuNaidu chose to support the BJP government at the Centre for his own reasons. Chandrababuwas more attracted by the larger vote of the BJP in the State than to hang on the left parties,who were seen marginalized due to a variety of national and international factors. Also theTDP leadership found it difficult to continue their alliance with the left parties, given theirdivergent approaches to the state and economy and also due to the growing proximitybetween the Left and the Congress. The Left parties launched a vehement criticism againstthe economic reform policies launched by the TDP only after they broke away from the TDP,that too on the ground that the TDP chose to support a ‘communal’ party government at theCentre. Some other observations on the electoral process in AP may be worth noting. There hasbeen an increasing divergence in the electoral outcomes at the State and national levels since1977. When the Congress was thoroughly defeated in Parliament elections in 1977 and inmost of the States later it won massively in AP in the parliament elections and retained powerin the Assembly elections that were held in the following year. When the Congress was
67winning and appeared strong elsewhere it lost badly in AP in 1984 Lok Sabha elections and1985 Assembly elections. When the non-Congress opposition emerged stronger in 1989 bydefeating the Congress, the TDP lost badly in the State. The electoral outcomes in AP in thelast two decades appear to be going in different direction from that of national electoraltrends. It is also perplexing to note that a party’s victory or defeat in elections does not seem todepend very much on the policies of the ruling party and their rational evaluation by theelectorate. It does not mean that public interest and opinion have no role to play in policyformulation or welfare programmes. In the ultimate analysis, they may also play a role in theelectoral performance of the political parties. But it is difficult to endorse the view that theelectoral outcomes are due to the conscious decisions of the majority voters to punish theruling party for its bad performance in terms of its public policies and their implementation.Policies have their place in the stability of the government and enhancing or damaging aparty’s image. But what extent this factor plays a role in deciding the electoral outcomes isdifficult to say. It is widely acknowledged by almost by everyone in AP that the Congresslost in 1983, not because of antipathy to the Congress policies, but due to disgust among thepeople towards factional games that reduced government and party to a farce. The TDPimplemented welfare programmes in an unprecedented manner during 1985-89. But it stilllost it lost in 1989. TDP’s defeat was attributed to the quixotic style of NTR’s functioningand his inability to stem the desertion of some party leaders, who were regarded asrepresentatives of major castes in AP politics. Also we cannot say that the TDP gotsubstantial vote from the sections who benefited most from the welfare schemes. Congresslost in 1994 for no specific evil policy it had made. It would be a mistake to interpret it as avote against the new economic policies of the Congress. Similarly it would be wrong to treatthe reelection of the TDP in 1999 as the endorsement of its economic reforms. Neither thegovernment policies and welfare programmes in themselves nor exclusive reliance onemotional and ethnic identities will help the leaders to win the elections. Functioning of thegovernment and the ruling party and the leadership styles, could be also issues in elections.How the opposition leaders can work up the agitated feelings of the voters and exploit theresentment against the ‘misdeeds’ of the ruling party and those in power are also importantfactors in electoral success. Different issues or a combination of issues become important indetermining electoral outcomes at different times. Election studies also show that a large proportion of voters are more concerned about localissues in exercising their vote rather than national issues. National issues might be moreimportant to the activists, party leaders and the elite, whose role cannot be underestimated ininfluencing the voter’s decision. As far as the common voter is concerned the awarenessabout the national issues and, even when they are aware, the importance they attach to themtends to be low. They tend to be influenced by the developments in their vicinity, seem to beconcerned with immediate personal problems (one might call it personal welfare) followleaders whom they trust or dependent upon for local help. They expect the government tocater to their immediate needs such as ration cards and provision of food grains, house- sites,loans and financial assistance, drinking water, schools, roads, employment, and transportfacility. That could be the reason why the leaders and political parties promising, working foror trying to implement welfare schemes at local level tend to be successful. Voters tend torely more upon local leaders who could mediate between them and the government, ratherthan big leaders who could speak on issues of public policy. Voters also became conscious ofthe strength of their vote as they perceive their vote as a means of their economicimprovement. Voters think that leaders have an obligation to help them develop. They see
68that political contests and welfare programmes are closely related (Robinson, 1988). Theydemand assurances and watch results. Now political parties in the State cannot take voters forgranted. They have to be constantly alert and appear to be sensitive to the voters’ aspirationsand demands. There has been alternation of power between the Congress and the TDP since 1983. It wasa big change from the early decades of Independence when the victory of the Congress was aforegone conclusion; the only issue then was which faction of the Congress would take anupper hand. Congress was removed from power in 1983 when it was led by Mrs. Gandhi, apopular leader in AP. In a similar way the TDP was defeated in 1989, when NTR wasthought invincible in politics. The 1999 election was an exception. How do we explain thisrejection of ruling parties, what has come be known as ‘anti-incumbency’? Is it because thegovernments do not simply have the capacity to meet increasing aspirations of the people? Isit because of the misrule of the ruling parties or misdeeds of the top leaders? Or is it becausethe leaders are not able to rise to the expectations of the people? Or is it that the voters findthe politicians coming into power to be such crooks or becoming crooks after coming intopower that they have to change them in the next elections? Can we attribute it to the maturityof the voters? One important feature of electoral politics in the State in the last two decades is the declineof the vote by the independents and other parties. The share of independents gradually camedown from 10 per cent in the 1983 Assembly elections to about 5 per cent in 1999; and inLok Sabha elections it came down from 5.4 per cent to 1.4 per cent. The vote of other partiesremained stagnant. The possibilities for the emergence of either a national party or anothernew regional party as an alternative to the TDP and the Congress are very limited. Thus theelectoral fight has been virtually reduced as one between the Congress and the TDP. Thecompetition between the two parties has been intense. Though defeated in two Assemblyelections consecutively in 1994 and 1999, the Congress is still a major force in the State. Theway it staged its recovery in the 1999 elections was impressive. In fact, in 1999 LS electionsit polled more votes than the TDP. In the recent panchayat election the party came very closeto the ruling party. The morale of the party leadership is high. Its organization is still strongand it has active leaders and workers at the grassroots level. In 1998 the BJP appeared as a potential alternative to the two parties, when it won 18 percent vote in the Lok Sabha elections. With its ascendancy at the national level coupled withthe advantage it gained due to the turbulence in the TDP and the changing perceptions ofsome of the social groups to regain political importance, the BJP was able to emerge as aforce to reckon with in State politics. The State leaders of the party have their own ambitionsand under favourable conditions the BJP has the potential to eat into the electoral bases ofboth the Congress and the TDP, by way of attracting sections of dominant castes and thepeasant OBCs as well as the upper and the middle classes from these parties. But the BJPcannot hope too much to put religious identities to political use in AP in any big manner likein the North because the religious divide in the State is not very strong, except in Hyderabadcity, where the Muslim presence is considerable and the Majlis party is strong. Nor can itbank upon the Brahman-Vysya-Kshtriya vote only, because it is very negligible in the State.Whether the BJP can upstage the TDP in the State politics depends upon various factors,especially its ability to wean away large chunks of vote of the peasant and backwardcommunities from both the Congress and the TDP. As part of its larger strategy to createsmaller states with a view to break the dominance of the strong regional parties and as anantidote to the demand for federalism and the ‘centrifugal’ tendencies, the BJP leadership inAP would entertain the idea of creating a separate Telengana, if its dependence on the TDP
69for its survival at the Centre is obviated and if it thinks that it is easy for it to come into powerin separate Telengana State. The electoral trends of 1990s are marked by a fluidity of thesituation and a realignment of social groups may significantly alter the fortunes of the partiesinvolved in the electoral arena of the State. Coming to the economic reforms, it appears that they have come to stay. Regardless of thepolitical parties in power the reforms are likely to continue. But the intriguing aspect is whysuch ruckus has been created in AP on economic reforms, where as economic reforms couldbe implemented in the neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtrawithout such rancour or hullabaloo. It is not that economic reforms were implemented in APon any large scale compared to these other States. The way the economic reforms in the Stateare personalized and politicized is quite surprising. Identifying reforms with an individualleader will have the possibility of putting the reforms in jeopardy. Chandrababu alone speaksfor the reforms and rarely do we find other Ministers and party leaders speaking about them.Opposition to him or to the TDP is sought to be projected as opposition to reforms andprogress in the State. The Left parties and the Congress had been depicted as wreckers ofreforms. Had Congress been in power it would have implemented more or less similarreforms. If at all any party is responsible for introducing reforms in this country it is theCongress party. Congress now might have some differences on certain aspects of economicreforms or the manner in which the ruling TDP had gone about these reforms or regardingsome specific instances in policy implementation. Congress as opposition party has to play itsrole keeping the next elections in mind. We see this kind of dualism even with ChandrababuNaidu. He opposed the Central government when it sought to raise the prices of certaincommodities or privatize some public sector industries. The ruling TDP should concede thatmuch ground to the opposition parties in the State. The ruling party should have made somesincere efforts to iron out such differences and find out a common ground with the Congressand the BJP, instead of making it a polemical issue or a factor to gain electoral advantage. Precisely such a situation had put the Congress on the horns of dilemma: between itsgeneral support for liberalization of the economy on the one hand and the compulsions of anopposition party staking its claim to oppose the policies of the ruling party, which iscommitted to economic reforms. It has to support the reforms in general, but attackChandrababu for his `style of reform’. Of late it has been making attempts, along with theLeft parties, to project Chandrababu as working at the dictates of the World Bank, as opposedto people’s interests have not been successful so far. The Left parties have been vociferous intheir opposition to the TDP, claiming to represent an alternative policy framework. But theyhave been already growing weak over the time and their voices could hardly change thecourse. However, the mass protest movement launched by the Left parties along with theCongress over the hike in electricity charges had driven the point home that the ruling partycannot take people granted in implementing the reforms. It is true, implementation of the economic reforms also presents a formidable predicamentto the ruling party. Changes in the international context and the economic crisis at thenational level made the introduction of economic reforms necessary in the country. But theimplementation of reforms was not easy in the face of opposition from people who would beaffected by reforms although in divergent ways – the vested interests such as traders,industrialists, politicians and bureaucrats who have profited by the erstwhile state structureand the vast sections of people, who constitute more than a majority of the society and whowere the beneficiaries of the large scale state intervention in social and economicrestructuring. In addition there is always the political opposition, which would carp at the
70policies of the ruling party, although it might do the same if it comes into power, and tries toput the ruling party in a difficult position whenever an occasion comes to it. In fact, this is one major dilemma for any politician in a developing country working withmarket economic reforms in a competitive political environment. The more the frequency ofelections the more restrained will be the ruling party to go ahead with economic reforms. APhad gone through general elections to the local bodies, Assembly or Lok Sabha seven timesin the last 10 years. There were four elections in five years since Chandrababu came topower. The ruling party has to be sensitive to the perceptions and response of the majority ofthe people in order to survive. While carrying out the reforms, the government has to make itappear that it was committed to the welfare of the poor and the disadvantaged. The mainburden of explaining the State policies to the people remains with the political leaders, notwith the bureaucrat or the intellectual. It is the responsibility of the political leadership to reinin the pressures of the richer classes and positively respond to the expectations of thecommon man. It is also the responsibility of the political leadership to set an example byreforming itself by upholding ethics in public life. It seems that the political leadership doesnot realize this so much. Reforms under a democratic framework may prove to be beneficialto the society in the long run, because they would become more enduring as they generateconsent through a process of accommodating diverse interests and mitigating the opposition. There are fears that opposition to economic reforms may increase if they fail to prove theirefficacy in near future in bringing about the assured economic growth and its percolationdown the line. Also contradictions might increase between the attempts to accelerate reformsand to enhance expenditure on welfare. One major challenge before the government is todevise ways in which it could intervene, within the limited finances available to it, to insulatethe poor from the harsh effects of the economic reform. There are also fears about themounting debt, and only very few know how the money borrowed has been or is being spent.There is a widespread feeling that a part of the loans that come in go into the pockets of thepoliticians, government officers and fixers in various forms such as ‘percentages’ and‘commissions’. The ruling party and politicians are coming under pressure from the marketforces on the one hand and the people on the other. It depends upon the maturity and theextent of autonomy the political leadership can exercise in determining the future course ofthe economic reforms and to combine ‘development’ and ‘welfare’. What would be the options left to the ruling parties at the State level, if the opposition canuse this plank of reforms going against the interests of the common man and also resentmentand resistance to the liberalization policies and unethical practices of politicians increase andgoes out of control is a big question. This needs further study. There are already dangerousportents to the ruling TDP. The recent panchayat elections had sent alarm signals to the rulingTDP. In the race for power, the Congress came ominously close to the TDP, both in terms ofpopular vote and seats in the panchayat bodies at all the levels. The political situation appearsto be fluid, and how it takes shape in future depends on how the contending parties andpolitical actors deal with the situation. Chandrababu asserted that there was no question ofgoing back on economic reforms but now he would be more cautious in his approach to‘development’ and would perhaps want to maintain a delicate balance between reforms andwelfare. Ironically, the Congress party was badly beaten by populism of NTR in 1994 and by anti-populism of Chandrababu Naidu in 1999. In 1994 it was dubbed by the TDP as pro-liberalization, which was castigated by NTR as pro-rich, anti-people and anti-democratic atthat time and in 1999 it was dubbed as anti-liberalization, where as the TDP’s policies of
71liberalization were projected as pro-development. Both in the advocacy of liberalization andwelfarism during the period 1996-99, Congress appeared to a feeble echo of ChandrababuNaidu and the voters might have thought to better choose the original instead of the echo.There appears not much ideological distinction between the Congress and the TDP or for thatmatter BJP. With Chandrababu Naidu successful in making his discourse of development asthe dominant one and adopting a populist-welfarist strategy on the eve of elections, thepossibilities for the Congress to come back to power would depend on its ability to evolve notone but multiple strategies, and present itself as a viable and reliable alternative to the rulingTDP. In AP politics, like in Indian politics, a kind of tension seems to prevail between thetendency to centralize power and the avowed aim of decentralization. The problem, unlike inthe Western countries, is to decentralize the state when a strong centralized state has not yetemerged or the state-building process went on in a halting and faltering manner. It appearedthat the leaders of ‘regional parties’ stand for a full-blooded federalism and decentralizationof the state by giving more powers to the States, while they are reluctant to decentralize theState and devolve powers to the local bodies. The regional parties suspect the ConstitutionalAmendment Act for decentralization below State level as a ploy of the national parties andthe central government to weaken the large and relatively strong State governments. Thus,they become wary of the demands from below for greater share in state power. If we keep therhetoric of all political parties at the State level about their resolve to strengthen thepanchayati raj bodies aside, very few leaders seem to care about strengthening or the actualfunctioning of these bodies. The emergence of the two-party system made the panchayat elections more competitive.But the problem is that the PR bodies, over time, came to be looked upon as instruments toexercise power or means to keep factional and party control over rural areas. In the last twodecades panchayat elections in AP became more of a battle between the more or less equallystrong parties with low commitment to decentralization. NTR brought a new PR Act in 1985with an ostensible aim to strengthen the PRIs, but during his time we saw not only a higherdegree of centralization but also tremendous concentration of power. The TDP stood for truefederalism in the country, but it stopped at the level of Centre-State relations. Even afterNTR, TDP continues to be a highly centralized party. AP was one of the early States to introduce the panchayati raj system in India in 1959. Inthe initial decades there was a great deal of enthusiasm, both among the local leaders and thepeople to make PRIs as vibrant centres of local administration for the promotion of ruraldevelopment. Earlier studies on the panchayati raj had shown that the PRIs were mostlycontrolled by the rural elites from the dominant castes. But the situation has undergone asweeping change. The introduction of reservations for the SCs, STs, BCs and women broughtabout a radical shift in the composition of people’s representatives. A new crop of leadersfrom the hitherto excluded social sections is bound to emerge. Now the demand for morepowers to the PRIs is becoming vehement. The leaders of the ruling TDP seems to hold the view that since the panchayati raj set up isa part of State government or the state as such, too much emphasis need not be given to them.They see several problems in the functioning of the panchayati raj bodies, because theirdemocratic character is weak, accountability is lacking at that level too and they do notpromote participatory development. Chandrababu thinks that the panchayati raj bodies stilloperate under the old paradigm of paternalism and reinforce state-centred approach. In tunewith his thinking on liberalization and deregulation, he seems to hold the view that the
72processes of decentralization of government and de-statization have to go together. He saysthat he wants to create a vibrant civil society with people’s participation in associationalactivity at local level to remedy the overgrown state and in order to rein in whatever the statethat exits. That is the reason why he lays more emphasis on Water Users’ Associations, JointForest Management Groups, educational committees, DWACRA groups, etc. than thedecentralization programme. Chandrababu says that the panchayati raj bodies become moreresponsive and accountable only when the civil society becomes more assertive. But the twoprocesses need not be thought of as mutually conflicting. The need to devolve more powers and finances to the local bodies, in conjunction with thepromotion and strengthening of the civic associations and self-help groups, in a way thatstrengthens participatory democracy is a major task before the State government. Genuinedecentralization could be a pragmatic option to the TDP government in countering separatistregional demands and shoring up its electoral support. The TDP government has to fulfill itspromise. The Vision 2020 document emphasized that decentralization is an essential part ofthe programme to make government institutions more efficient and effective. It stated that theState would devolve administrative and financial powers to panchayati raj bodies as per theConstitutional requirement. The steps the State government has taken appear to be inadequateto really empower the local bodies. The State government should take steps that transform itsvision into action without any further unnecessary delay. Panchayat elections revealed the extent to which the TDP revolved around the personalityof Chandrababu. Centralization and concentration of too much of power in one is always avicious trap and extremely difficult to find a way out. This situation could turn out to beChandrababu’s Achilles’ heel unless it is remedied at the earliest. Too much concentration ofpower in the top leader not only leads to a feeling of powerlessness among other leaders butalso certain loss of respect towards these leaders among the general public and party activists.There seems to a widespread feeling among a large number of Ministers, MPs and MLAs thatthey are marginalized, although it is a different matter how worthy every one is for beingentrusted with positions of power and prestige. This seems to be the case with most of theregional parties, especially the ruling ones, in the country. A highly centralized party with awell-integrated organizational structure under the firm control of an unquestioned leader,what the Telugu Desam Party is, need not always be considered a favourable factor inwinning popular elections in a competitive political situation. In such a party there is always atendency for the local units to lose initiative; for those activists who are innovative andenthusiastic to become alienated and lackadaisical, if not indifferent; and for the cadres tolose live contact with the people, become dependent on the leader who is often attributed withsome super human qualities. Leaders down the line tend to work more out of fear or narrowselfish interest than with enthusiasm necessary for the vibrancy of a political party. Unlikebureaucratic organizations, parties, which are based essentially on voluntary participation andactivity, cannot function efficiently under the conditions of domination and subordination orrigid hierarchical structures. This presents another dilemma to the political parties. If the leader allows democraticfunctioning it might lead to loosening the leader’s grip resulting in indiscipline, groupism anddisorder. It he does not he has to bear the entire responsibility for the decisions andperformance of the government and thus becomes highly vulnerable. The party leader livesunder perpetual fear that there are too many self-seekers around him, who would takeadvantage if autonomy is given to them. Even those leaders who start with democraticcredentials and intensions slowly centralize power. While such a situation is partly due to thesocial and cultural conditions that prevail in the society, it is also partly due to the
73unwillingness of the top leaders to make conscious attempts for effective democracy in theparty and government. The last two decades of the 20th century AP politics witnessed a great deal of politicaldegradation with increase in political and bureaucratic corruption, phenomenal increase ofrole of money and muscle power in elections. The political decay in State politics was not somuch due to the increasing demand on the state resources from the newly awakened socialgroups or the increasing difficulty to govern, but more due to the decay of politicalleadership. Political corruption assumed terrible proportions since the time of Channa Reddygovernment during 1978-80. But every government that came to power afterwards made theearlier governments appear better. A Telugu saying that ‘the one who eats lambs has gone butthe one who eats buffaloes has come in’ aptly described the situation in AP politics. The waythe politicians and officials amassed wealth at the cost of public welfare was simply amazing.Politics began to be looked as a profession to make easy money. Sanction of licenses andpermits, award of contracts, bulk government purchases, transfer of officials, issue of ordersthat benefit particular persons or firms became the main means to make huge amounts ofmoney. Some kind of helpless approval or indifference towards the corrupt politician andofficials has enveloped the society. Since the time of Channa Reddy, the CMs themselvesbecame very corrupt, mostly in the name of the need to collect party funds to win the nextelection. The epithets used to describe the CMs were amusing: Channa Reddy was known as‘Chanda (donations) Reddy’ and Janardan Reddy was called ‘Dhanarjan (money-making)Reddy’. NTR often described himself as a crusader against corruption in the beginning. Buteven during his time money was freely collected for ‘party’s fund’ as was exposed in severalscandals about the money stacked in party’s offices. But interestingly, if we look at thedeclarations made by the people’s representatives before the 1999 elections, which weremade mandatory, about their assets and income one finds that most of the Ministers andMLAs had only a modest income and lead the life of an average individual in the society,while it is common knowledge that most of them became fabulously rich despite their humblebackground at the beginning of their political career. Earlier the high level of corruption was attributed to the high level of state controls andintervention. But the level of corruption does not seem to abate with liberalization and the so-called rolling back of the state. There had been a galore of corruption charges made by theopposition parties against the Ministers in the TDP government, including the CM. Thecharges were mainly related to the commissions taken by the politicians of the ruling partyand the bureaucrats. In the last few years a new section of contractors have come up with theblessings of the ruling party, who formed the basis of the TDP support in rural and urbanareas. It seems corruption remains a big business as usual in the post-liberalization phase too.Since the corruption deals are highly secretive and the corrupt have refined the means tocollect money and hoard ill-gotten wealth, it is difficult to speak about the extent ofcorruption. Unless the top leaders of the government and the top bureaucrats raise themselvesabove the greed to amass wealth, which is a remote possibility, or a kind people’s resistanceto corrupt practices grows and the electorate refuse to elect corrupt to public office thereseems to be no remedy for the widespread corruption in the State. But it hardly becomes amajor issue in State politics or elections, perhaps because all the major parties are afflictedwith this disease. In recent years Andhra Pradesh has also got the dubious distinction of a leading State interms of election expenditure. The study conducted by the CSDS on election expenditureduring the 1999 general elections showed that AP is on the top of election expenditure.During elections time money flows freely, just like water, on publicity, to purchase votes (by
74distribution of money, gifts, and liquor) and to maintain battalions of volunteers, who ofteninclude hired muscle men. Buying votes has become a routine phenomenon and the price of avote goes up if there is a stiff competition between rival candidates, if they are ‘resourceful’.Earlier the practice was that to give money, lump sum, to the caste or local leader, who wouldspend the money either on boozing or feasting his group members. But the now theintermediary is removed and the money is directly distributed to the voters by trusted agentsof the candidates. Some times voters accept money from more than one candidate. Liquorflows freely at the time of elections. Political parties have been nominating candidates on thestrength of their financial resources and their ability to spend money than their suitability as apeople’s representative or commitment to the national interests. Instead of strengtheninghealthy democratic practices, the intense party competition that prevails in the State, from thelocal to State level, had vitiated the atmosphere as we witness a money-spending spree by therival parties and candidates. It has become well nigh impossible for any decent candidatewithout huge financial resources to win an election under normal conditions. The actualexpenditure of the candidates exceeds the limits imposed by the Election Commission onelection expenditure by several times. Even in panchayat election candidates spend lakhs ofrupees. Political observers say that one important reason for the phenomenon growth ofpolitical corruption was the compulsion to spend huge amounts of money to win the election.Thus the voters are also partly responsible for the sad state of affairs that prevails in theelection process. Similarly, in the last two decades criminality in politics has also been on the rise. A surveyby Lok Satta, a Hyderabad based voluntary organization for strengthening democracy andpeople’s empowerment, showed that in the 1999 General Elections 60 candidates of themajor political parties were known to have criminal background. The rise of criminals inpublic affairs itself could be an indication of the failure or malfunctioning of the democraticgovernmental institutions, especially the police, judiciary and the general administration andtheir replacement with parallel networks of law and order and arbitration. ChandrababuNaidu appealed to the voters in the 1999 elections not to elect criminals. But the majorpolitical parties gave tickets to persons with criminal background. At times the criminalsthemselves become leading politicians or the politicians themselves indulge in criminalactivity. It is not that people do not know the criminal background of the candidates inelections, but still they get elected. How to ensure that criminals are kept outside thelegislature and government is a big challenge in AP society. Rigging has become a widespread practice in the elections in recent times. For this leadersare required to maintain an army of hooligans and musclemen to scare away voters from thevicinity of the polling booths, to threaten or beat the rival candidates or their agents, tocapture the polling booths or to rig the voting. In several places ‘bomb culture’ grew as therival factions and parties freely use bombs. Opponents in some places are kidnapped ormaimed or killed, while the leaders indulge in hypocritical talk about principles of non-violence and democracy. This has become very common in Rayalaseema region, wherefactionalism assumed violent and terrorist forms. The combined strength of money andmuscle power became so much that concerned citizens often say that democracy in the Statehas been reduced to an empty shell and elections are increasing becoming farcical, and thatthey have only one function – that of giving spurious legitimacy to the rich, criminal andcorrupt in the society. But there appear some signs of positive change in recent times in thethinking of the people to elect representatives with some integrity and clean image. Whatkind of institutional reforms are possible to remedy the situation is an aspect for further study.
75 There is aversion to politics among most of the enlightened public. Politics today isunderstood more as a game in which unscrupulous leaders compete with each other to acquireor retain political power by means fair or foul. Voters have been trying their best to dislodgemalfunctioning governments and self-seeking leaders. Power is alternating between theleaders of the Congress and the TDP. As one commentator on AP politics observed, the voteris getting defeated in election after election, whoever wins the election. In such a situation theanti-incumbency factor might continue to play an important role in the State for some time tocome. Will Chandrababu’s TDP prove to be different as he speaks for a SMARTgovernment? But one can still be optimistic and go with the interpretation given by Pippa Norris that ina democracy dissatisfaction with the performance of regimes springs from a commitment todemocratic government among the public (Norris, 1999). This should be true also to India’sdeveloping democracy. The preliminary tables of the recent World Values Survey (2001) inIndia shows that more than two-thirds of the respondents felt that a democratic politicalsystem is suitable to the country and only 5 per cent said it was not. Nearly two-thirds feltthat although democracy may have problems but it is better than any other form ofgovernment. We find a similar trend from the data on Andhra Pradesh. This gives somesatisfaction. At different levels and in a variety of ways democracy is at work in AP and thecountry at large. Elections are the main agency through which it is operated and reinforced. Itis very clear that there are multiple problems in India’s democratic structure and functioning.There are also several hurdles that have to be overcome. The task is to make it more enduringand effective. The challenge is a multi-faceted one for which we need voters who are moreresponsible and informed, leaders who are farsighted and trustworthy, political parties thatare more open and democratically structured, and government that is more ethical andefficient.
76Tables Table 1 Results of Vidhan Sabha Elections: Seats won and percentage of votes secured by major political parties in the Vidhan Sabha elections in AP, 1952-1978. Years 1952* 1952** 1955@ 1957# 1962 1967 1972 1978Name of the PartyCongress 40 44 119 68 177 165 219 175 30.7 38.8 39.3 46.6 47.3 45.4 52.3 39.3Swatantra -- -- -- -- 19 29 2 -- -- -- -- -- 10.4 9.8 2.0 --Janata Party -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 60 -- -- -- -- -- -- -- 28.8Bharatiya Jan Sangh -- -- -- -- 0 3 0 -- -- -- -- -- 1.0 2.2 1.9 --CPI 41 37 15 23 51 11 7 6 16.4 30.8 31.3 26.3 19.5 7.8 6.0 2.5CPI(M) -- -- -- -- -- 9 1 8 -- -- -- -- -- 7.6 3.2 2.7Others 41a 11b 40c 8d 2e 3f 1g 30h 29.4 13.6 18.8 12.4 1.3 0.7 2.4 17.5Independents 19 5 22 8 51 68 57 15 23.5 16.8 11.6 14.5 20.5 26.5 32.2 9.2* Elections in Andhra region in the united Madras State.** Elections in Telengana region in the Hyderabad State.@ Elections in Andhra State.# Elections in Telengana region of Andhra Pradesh.a. Socialists won 6 seats with 6.1% vote; KMPP 20 seats with 14.7% vote; KLP 15 seats with 8.6% vote.b. Socialistsc. KLP won 22 seats with 8.6% vote; Praja Party 5 (3.5%); PSP 13 (6.6%)d. PSP 1 seat (5.6%); Socialist 5 (4.1%)e. Socialists won 2 seats with 0.9% vote; Republican 0.4%f. Socialist 0.4%’; Republican 0.3%g. Socialist 0.1%; Sampurna Telengana Praja Samiti won 1 seat with 2.0% voteh. Congress(R) led by Vengala Rao secured 30 seats with 17% voteNote: After the formation of AP, general elections in the entire State were held to the Legislative Assembly for the first time in the year 1962.
77 Table 2 Results of Lok Sabha Elections: Seats won and percentage of votes secured by major political parties in the Lok Sabha elections in AP, 1957-1980. Years 1957 1962 1967 1971 1977 1980Name of thePartyCongress 35 34 35 28 41 41 51.5 47.9 46.8 55.7 57.4 56.2Swatantra -- 1 3 0 -- -- -- 14.9 13.8 4.6 -- --Janata Party -- -- -- -- 1 0 -- -- -- -- 32.3 15.2Bharatiya Jan Sangh 0 0 0 0 -- 0 0.1 1.2 1.4 1.6 -- 6.4Socialists 0 0 0 0 -- -- 3.6 0.1 0.6 0.3 -- --CPI 2 7 1 1 0 0 12.0 21.0 11.4 5.9 2.7 3.7CPI(M) -- -- 0 1 0 0 -- -- 7.4 2.8 4.7 3.6Others -- 0 0 10a 0 1b -- 1.0 0.5 15.3 0.1 7.3Independents 4 1 2 1 0 0 32.8 13.9 18.1 8.2 2.8 7.6a. Telengana Praja Samiti won 10 seats with 14.3% voteb. INC(U) won 1 seat with 7.2% voteNote: General Elections to Lok Sabha in AP in the entire State were held for the first time in the year 1957.
78 Table 3 Results of Vidhan Sabha Elections: Seats won and percentage of votes secured by major political parties in the Vidhan Sabha elections in AP, 1983-1999. Years 1983 1985 1989 1994 1999Name of the PartyCongress 60 50 182 26 91 33.6 37.5 47.2 33.6 40.6TDP 198 202 73 219 179 46.3 46.2 36.6 44.1 43.8BJP 3 8 5 3 12 2.8 1.6 1.8 3.9 3.7Left Parties 9 22 13 34 2 4.8 5.0 5.2 6.5 3.3Others 2 3 6 3 4 2.6 0.9 1.3 3.2 3.8Independents 22 9 14 12 5 9.9 8.8 6.1 8.7 4.8 Table 4 Results of Lok Sabha Elections: Seats won and percentage of votes secured by major political parties in the Lok Sabha elections in AP, 1984-1999. Years 1984 1989 1991 1996 1998 1999Name of the PartyCongress 6 39 25 22 22 5 41.8 51.0 45.6 39.7 38.5 42.8TDP 30 2 13 16 12 29 44.7 34.5 32.8 32.6 32.0 39.9BJP 1 0 1 0 4 7 2.2 1.5 9.9 5.7 18.3 9.9Left Parties 2 0 2 3 2 0 3.6 4.3 4.4 5.3 5.5 2.7Others 2 1 1 1 2 1 2.3 2.3 3.1 13.0 4.0 3.3Independents 1 0 0 0 0 0 5.4 6.5 4.2 3.8 1.7 1.4
79 Table 5 Who Voted Whom in Andhra Pradesh 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha Elections 1996 1998 INC TDP BJP INC TDP BJP Social Background AGE 25 years and below 46.6 47.3 2.7 42.1 43.0 14.0 26-35 years 44.7 42.9 4.7 44.5 41.6 13.2 36-45 years 42.2 46.9 7.0 37.2 38.9 23.9 46-55 years 47.3 50.0 2.0 47.9 39.7 11.0 56 years and above 50.6 42.7 2.2 44.1 40.7 13.0 GENDER Male 49.0 40.6 5.7 43.1 36.7 19.4 Female 42.9 50.3 2.6 42.1 45.7 1.7 EDUCATION Illiterate 38.4 55.4 3.6 43.9 46.7 8.2 Primary and Middle 48.7 42.7 5.3 44.8 42.5 12.6 Intermediate 60.9 30.9 3.6 42.0 38.4 18.8 Graduate and above 48.7 23.1 5.1 36.8 22.1 39.7 LOCALITY Rural 42.1 49.9 5.1 44.0 42.0 13.2 Urban 58.8 30.5 0.8 44.4 38.6 19.9 ECONOMIC CLASS Very poor 34.4 59.7 3.8 42.8 50.3 5.8 Poor 49.0 40.7 8.3 41.3 41.3 16.7 Middle 50.0 41.3 2.5 42.2 33.3 24.5 Upper 53.1 37.0 0.0 45.2 32.2 22.6 CASTE – COMMUNITY Upper Caste 48.5 40.2 10.6 36.8 38.4 24.0 Other Backward Caste 43.6 47.9 6.4 40.3 42.7 16.6 Scheduled Caste 55.8 40.3 3.9 53.5 34.9 9.3 Scheduled Tribe 32.6 56.8 10.5 47.4 41.0 10.3 Muslims 55.9 37.3 5.1 46.4 46.4 5.4 Others 50.0 50.0 0.0 70.0 30.0 -- Total 45.8 45.6 7.4 42.8 40.9 15.3Note: In 1998 the TDP had alliance with the Left Parties, while the BJP had alliance with NTRTDP-LP.Percentages do not add up to 100 because votes for `Other Parties’ are omitted.Source: Tables based on post-poll surveys in the 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi.
80 Table 6 Who Voted Whom in Andhra Pradesh 1999 Lok Sabha Elections INC TDP+BJP Social Background AGE 25 years and below 47.6 46.2 26-35 years 41.9 47.9 36-45 years 38.1 50.8 46-55 years 50.4 37.0 56 years and above 41.9 51.6 GENDER Male 45.0 47.5 Female 41.7 47.1 EDUCATION Illiterate 41.3 47.0 Primary and Middle 41.4 49.4 Intermediate 54.2 43.3 Graduate and above 44.0 48.6 LOCALITY Rural 42.7 46.7 Urban 44.6 48.8 ECONOMIC CLASS Very poor 37.7 49.1 Poor 41.3 50.5 Middle 53.1 41.1 Upper 44.9 46.6 CASTE – COMMUNITY Upper Caste 32.8 63.9 Reddy 69.8 27.9 Kamma 6.5 87.1 Kapus 45.2 53.4 Peasant OBCs 35.0 62.1 Lower OBCs 40.3 45.5 Scheduled Caste 63.5 33.3 Scheduled Tribe 31.9 42.2 Muslims 60.9 28.2 Others 51.4 45.7 Total 43.3 47.3Note: Percentages do not add up to 100 because votes for `Other Parties’ are omitted.Source: Tables based on post-poll surveys in the 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha elections conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi.
81Table 7Table showing region-wise results of the elections to ZPTCs, MPTCs, and Mandal presidents, 2001and the seats won by various political parties in the 1995 Panchayat elections. Party/ Total TDP Cong BJP CPI CPI(M) TRS Others Region consti- & Ind. tuencies ZPTCs Coastal Andhra 422 232 178 1 2 -- -- 9 Rayalaseema 231 123 103 1 1 -- -- 3 Telengana 441 157 165 11 5 15 84 4 Andhra Pradesh 1094 512 446 13 8 15 84 16 1995 Panchayat 1038 694 274 6 12 23 -- 29 elections, AP MPTCs Coastal Andhra 6429 3229 2655 53 44 54 -- 394 Rayalaseema 2729 1373 1189 26 19 10 -- 112 Telengana 5422 1749 1807 200 141 216 1043 266 Andhra Pradesh 14580 6351 5651 279 204 280 1043 772 1995 Panchayat 14129 7227 4696 160 281 342 -- 1423 elections, AP Mandal Presidents Posts Coastal Andhra 420 233 163 2 3 2 -- 17 Rayalaseema 229 113 110 1 1 -- -- 4 Telengana 435 134 161 5 13 18 83 21 Andhra Pradesh 1084 480 434 8 17 20 83 42 1995 Panchayat 1036 653 283 6 18 26 -- 50 elections, APSource: AP State Election Commission, Elections to Panchayati raj Bodies, 2001, Hyderabad, 2001.Table 8Percentage of valid votes secured by major political parties in the three regions of the State in thePanchayat elections, 2001. Party/ TDP Cong BJP CPI CPI(M) TRS Others Ind. Region Coastal Andhra 49.46 45.97 1.04 0.74 0.61 -- 0.48 1.68 Rayalaseema 49.50 45.33 1.63 0.57 0.68 -- 0.37 1.91 Telengana 35.36 32.52 4.22 1.84 3.53 20.44 0.13 1.95 Andhra Pradesh 44.09 40.72 2.36 1.13 1.74 7.80 0.33 1.82Source: AP State Election Commission, Elections to Panchayati raj Bodies, 2001, Hyderabad, 2001.
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