Outcome of AP bypolls to set course for next LS polls?

N Kiran Kumar Reddy

Outcome of the impending by-elections to 18 Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat will set the course for the next general elections in Andhra Pradesh.

Essentially though, the by-elections will determine the longevity of N Kiran Kumar Reddy as Chief Minister as well as the fate of the ruling Congress in the state.

Kiran only managed to prolong his innings by ensuring that bypolls to these 18 seats were not held along with the seven in March or else his fate would have been sealed by now.

He has, however, been put under notice by the Congress high command to ensure the party romps home at least in half of the 18 seats now, failing which -- to put it in Kiran's own lingo -- he will lose his wicket.

If the Congress fares miserably, much like the by-elections to seven Assembly seats in March, the survival of the government itself may be in peril.

The stakes would be too high for the Congress in the by-elections as 16 of these 18 Assembly seats and the Nellore Lok Sabha seat were won by it in 2009 general elections. The balance two were won by the Praja Rajyam Party, which merged with Congress recently.

If the YSR Congress (YSRC), headed by Kadapa MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy, manages to hold its sway and bag a majority of seats in the bypolls as being largely predicted, the "fence-sitters" in Congress will not have a second thought in jumping over to the other side, only to protect their political careers.

That, as being speculated, may well lead to a mid-term election to the state Assembly by early 2013.

The by-elections are being dubbed as the "semi-finals" before the finals (general elections or even mid-term polls).

Though there is time till August/September, the Election Commission said it would complete the by-election process ahead of the election of President, implying that bypolls could be held in June.

... contd.

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