Vol. XLIII No. 14 April 07, 2019
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A P: Spectacular Victory of PDF Candidates to Legislative Council

B Tulasi Das

PROGRESSIVE Democratic Front candidates have been elected to the AP state legislative council in the biennial elections held on March 22. KS Lakshmana Rao from Krishna Guntur district graduates’ constituency and I Venkateswara Rao from Godavari districts graduates’ constituency scored impressive victory. They defeated corporate education barons and their representatives. It’s a welcome feature that wide spread discussion has taken place among the teachers, employees and youth against corporatisation of education and health. PDF candidates are recognised as the fighters for strengthening government education and public health. Voters have given a decisive victory as the PDF candidates were declared won with the first priority vote counting, unprecedented in the recent years. P Raghu Varma supported by the PDF has been elected from north coastal Andhra Pradesh teachers’ constituency. He defeated an opportunist candidate, who stood in support of the party in power and also is a known broker and lobbyist. It may be mentioned that both the TDP and the YSRCP have not fielded nor openly supported any candidate this time in view of the ensuing general elections.

Detail                          Krishna-Guntur        Godavari districts

Total votes                  2,48,799                      2,93,794

Polled votes                1,49,319                      1,92,137

Valid votes                  1,35,810                      1,78,172

PDF                                80,670                         98,193

Percentage                        59.39                          55.11

2nd candidate                12,550                        38,124

Candidates in fray               40                                46

 

These elections belied the argument that money, liquor, muscle power are a must to score victory. Since the revival of the legislative council of united AP in 2007, PDF candidates have been winning most of the times. UTF, the largest of teacher’s organisations and many workers and employees’ unions under the influence of the CITU are the foundation for the PDF. Teachers and employees organisations have closely coordinated right from the voter enrolment to the stage of counting of votes. All the decisions including the candidate selection are done in a democratic way. Usually, the voters contribute for election expenses. Such electioneering process has been followed from the last 12 years and is yielding good results. This has been used as an opportunity to campaign among the middle class against the neoliberal policies and on the necessity to fight them back. In recent years, teachers’ organisations under the FAPTO and many unions under the influence of the AITUC are coming together in coordination with the PDF. Out of the ten teacher and graduate MLCs in the council (total strength of 58), PDF has five and two others are in its support. One from the BJP won with the support of TDP, one each with the support of ruling and opposition parties. The PDF and its allies have representation in all the 13 districts. They raise issues in the council and also give representations to the administration at the district and state level. This is very much helpful to the Left movement in the background of zero representation in the state assembly.

There have been two streams in the teacher’s movement and in the employees organisations – one relies on the struggles and movements while the other relies on lobbying. PDF candidates represent the first stream and the voters supported this line. The PDF has been fighting for the abolition of Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), which is hanging like a sword on the heads of young employees and teachers. The winners and their organisations are consistently fighting for special category status to AP and for implementation of the assurances given in connection with state reorganisation, though the party in power and the principal opposition party took opportunist stands. KS Lakshmana Rao served as the convenor of capital region development committee and exposed the misdeeds of the state government in connection with land pooling and fought for the relief to the ousted farmers and agricultural workers in that region. IV Rao served earlier as state general secretary/ president of UTF and also as the general secretary of the state JAC of employees and teachers.