Andhra panchayat polls coverage 'confusing'

BY R.Jagadeeswara Rao| IN Regional Media | 25/07/2013
Results of first phase of panchayat elections held in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday, as reported in various newspapers, have left the reader and viewer confused and amused.
R. JAGADEESWARA RAO tells us why. PIX: Eenadu on Wednesday morning.

The results of  the first phase of panchayat elections held in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday, as reported in various newspapers and beamed by electronic media, have left the reader and viewer confused and amused. It also puts a question mark on the credibility of the reports. Confused because of the variations in the reports on the number of seats bagged by different parties. And amused because of the variations in the number of winners from each party had not been unexpected because of the perceived background of the papers and channels. Another reason for the amusement was that elections were held on non-party basis and claims over winners were made by different political parties.

There is unanimity only on one aspect and that is the percentage of voting which was put at 83.96 percent, which was confirmed by the State Election Commission.

According to Eenadu, the leading daily newspaper in Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led the winners tally with 1529 (plus 567 unopposed candidates) gram panchayats in its bag, followed by Congress 1377 (plus 765), YSR Congress 1065 (plus 413) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) 418 (plus 90).

Compare this with the tally of Saakshi, a daily owned by YS Jaganmohan Reddy, MP, who has been in prison since May 2012. According to its reports, YSR Congress candidates had won in 2326 gram panchayats followed by Congress (2152), TDP (1986) and TRS (514). These figures included the number of candidates elected unopposed. When taken together (elected and unopposed) the figures reported by both Eenadu and Saakshi, more or less, tally in respect of TDP and the Congress. But there is a big variation in the number of winners in respect of YSR Congress. The Saakshi report says 2326 and the Eenadu report says 1478. Who is right? It is anybody’s guess.

Now a headline of Andhra Jyothy daily, another leading Telugu newspaper, proclaims ‘Palle…Pachcha Jenda’ meaning yellow flag (of TDP) was successful in gram (palle) panchayats. ‘Voters give a shock to YSR’ it adds. Compare this with Saakshi’s headline ‘YSR Congress. Pallello First’. (YSR Congress stands first in villages).

YS Rajasekhara Reddy used to call Eenadu and Andhra Jyothy ‘those two dailies’ implying the two papers had always criticised him and the Congress. According to some, it was only to counter the influence of these ‘two’ that the Saakshi newspaper and TV channel were launched.

As expected Namasthe Telangana daily claimed a wave in favour of TRS in the Telangana region. But Andhra Jyothy proclaimed ‘Telangana lo gulabiki mullu’. Gulabi or rose was associated with the TRS which has ‘mullu’, meaning thorns. Praja Sakshi said that the ruling party (Congress) was behind the opposition parties in all panchayats. Almost in all districts, TDP and YSR Congress are ahead of Congress, it added.   

The newspaper that seemed balanced in its coverage was Andhra Bhoomi that used the headline ‘Palle balam…tala koncham’, meaning every party has its strength in all villages.

Campaigning for the first phase of election to the 7780 odd gram panchayats has its own interesting aspects. Though it was a party-less election, campaigning was carried out with party flags. Every voter knew the party to which the candidate he was voting belonged. Another ‘amusing’ aspect was the joining of hands by leaders and supporters of different parties. Going by reports in the media, there were instances where voters saw local Congress leaders joining hands with the local TDP leaders and vice versa. Similar was the case with other parties. Local equations of leaders and supporters had necessitated this odd development, was the justification for this development. Some called it ‘amusing and interesting’ others disapproved it saying it is ‘ironical and shameful’.

The second phase of election to the remaining 6976 gram panchayats would be held on September 27, 2013. There was no election in Hyderabad district since it has no gram panchayats that is no villages.

(The figures mentioned in the above report were taken from various newspaper websites around 8 am on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. As counting continued for the remaining panchayats, the figures are likely to be altered.)

Editor’s note

While the State Election Commission does not give results party wise, the Times of India had the following figures on Wednesday morning:

According to figures available, the TDP emerged a clear winner, edging the Congress out across the three regions of the state. The TDP-backed candidates won in 1,944 panchayats while those supported by Congress emerged victorious in 1,686. The fledgling YSRCP stood third with 1,297 and TRS fourth with 456 panchayats.

These may help to put the YSRCP figures above in perspective.

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