Hyderabad: Forget about Jagan. There are many other reasons that could cause the ruling Congress` rout in the June 12 by-elections in one Lok Sabha and 18 Assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh.
The shock that the government gave to people in the form of enhanced electricity charges is bound to strike the Congress very hard. The steep hike in petrol price has only added fuel to the fire.
The by-elections could not have come at a much worse time for the Congress. Hundreds of villages are reeling under a severe drinking water crisis with the summer at its peak. Power supply has been erratic, to put it mildly, making life miserable to one and all.
In Praksam district, for example, people from villages are travelling in trains to fetch drinking water from a far- off source everyday, as the government failed to make alternative arrangements in the absence of regular supplies.
The district headquarters town Ongole Assembly constituency is going for by-poll, while Kandukuru Assembly segment is also facing poll as it falls under Nellore Lok Sabha constituency.
Incidentally, Kandukuru is represented by state Municipal Administration Minister M Maheedhara Reddy.
In Kurnool district, where Allagadda and Yemmiganur Assembly segments are going to polls, the situation is worse as people are forced to battle it out even for a pot of water. The indifference of the authorities concerned is only compounding the people`s woes.
There are similar tales in other districts as well, causing a lot of heartburn to people.
Strangely, the Congress candidates are blaming their YSR Congress rivals for leaving people in the lurch by "neglecting development" in the last three years.
The irony here is that the YSR Congress candidates had been the ruling Congress MLAs for more than two-and-a-half years before they switched over and faced disqualification, causing the by-election.
So, when the Congress contestants are blaming their YSR Congress rivals, it is coming back to hit the government.
The Congress leaders` links with the liquor syndicates in every district have been exposed, thanks to the Anti-Corruption Bureau`s crackdown. Also, their alleged nexus with the sand mafia` -- which resulted in a ban on sand quarrying in the state pushing the construction activity into a turmoil -- is also getting exposed.
All such issues have pushed the Congress onto the defensive.
With Jagan emerging as a Frankenstein, Congress leaders are only busy seeking to protect themselves from him and are thus left defenceless on other issues.
As usual, the internal squabbles in the party are also coming to haunt the Congress in many constituencies.
The ruling party has reached such a helpless stage, where it is now banking solely on the caste factor to save its face, at least in one or two constituencies.
A case in point is its focus on Narsapuram Assembly constituency in West Godavari district. Here, it is banking heavily on Kapu votes to secure victory for its nominee Kothapalli Subbarayudu. Rajya Sabha member K Chiranjeevi took the onus on himself to see that his erstwhile Praja Rajyam Party colleague romps home in Narsapuram.
Chiranjeevi is playing the Kapu card to win over the electorate here as he too hails from the region.
But his calculations may go awry as Kapus are said to be antagonistic towards Chiranjeevi ever since he merged his party with Congress.
Of the 18 Assembly seats, for which, by-elections are being held, only Parakal in Warangal district is in Telangana region. Winning Parakal will be nearly impossible for the Congress.
With already two of its MLAs jumping over to the Jagan camp last week and more expected to follow suit, it will be a daunting task for the Congress to save its government in the state. The by-elections pose a do-or-die challenge for the beleaguered party.