Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has put his main rival, the YSR Congress, on the defensive by announcing doubling of the state pension amount from January 1, 2019.
The YSRC has been in a jubilant mood after its party chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s successful completion of his almost year-long padayatra, so Mr Naidu’s announcement has come as a shock as it steals the thunder from Jagan Mohan Reddy who had announced a year ago that pensions would be doubled if his party was voted to power in the Assembly polls.
At present, the state government pays `1,000 per person per month under NTR Bharosa, which will double to `2,000 per month.
Disabled persons get `1,500 per month which will now increase to `3,000 per month. The state government pays 11 kinds of pensions to 54 lakh people under NTR Bharosa.
Since the arrears for January will be paid in February, those eligible for the old age pension will get `3,000 next month and disabled persons will get `4,500.
The Telugu Desam believes the enhancement of pension will help the party politically in the forthcoming elections. In the 2019 Assembly elections, the difference in vote sharing between the Telugu Desam and YSR Congress was 1.69 per cent.
A survey reportedly conducted at the instance of Telangana Chief Minister and TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao two months ago put the vote sharing difference between the Telugu Desam and YSR Congress at 2.5 per cent.
The Telugu Desam expects to further improve its vote share after the announcement of the increased pension. Other financial benefits to certain sections, including farmers, will also be announced in the coming days.
Mr Naidu is very confident of retaining power in the ensuing Assembly elections.
The Telugu Desam will contest alone without entering into an alliance with any other party for the first time.
The YSRC has announced that it too will contest on its own and the Jana Sena will have an alliance with left parties.
The Telugu Desam party was broken its ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In 2014, the Telugu Desam and BJP were allies, and the BJP got four per cent of the vote share. Telugu Desam leaders say that the four per cent of BJP votes will go to their party this time as the people of Andhra Pradesh are angry with the BJP for not granting special status to the state.