Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has cancelled his upcoming election meeting in Tirupati scheduled to be held on April 14 amid rising cases of COVID-19 in the state. The Chief Minister was to visit Tirupati to campaign for the Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party's (YSRCP) candidate for the Tirupati Lok Sabha bye-poll. He was scheduled to address a large election meeting on Wednesday to garner support for M Gurumoorthy, the ruling party's candidate for the Scheduled Caste-reserved Tirupati by-poll fixed for April 17.
"Health and happiness is of utmost importance for me. Therefore, being a responsible Chief Minister, I have decided to cancel my trip to the poll-bound constituency," wrote Jagan Mohan Reddy in a letter to the Tirupati voters on Saturday.
"As you all must be aware, I was hoping to reach out to each of you personally on April 14 by means of a public meeting that was scheduled. However, I'm having to write this letter after having a look at the latest health bulletin. The health of every single citizen matters to me," he said.
Reddy said thousands of citizens could have turned up for the public meeting to show their love and affection for him, yet he chose to cancel the meeting because of the rising coronavirus cases. Referring to the latest coronavirus bulletin, the Chief Minister said infections are rising across the country and Andhra Pradesh reported 2,765 cases in the latest 24 hour period with a positivity rate of 8.67 per cent.
"Chittoor district has reported the maximum number of cases with 496 infections. Nellore district has also reported 292 cases in just 24 hours. Out of the 11 deaths reported in the last 24 hours four belong to the districts of Chittoor and Nellore," Reddy added.
While Jagan spoke of the cases reported on April 9, as per the latest bulletin released on April 10, there was a further increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, as there were 3,309 fresh infections.
However, Jagan took the opportunity to canvas for Gurumoorthy, a physiotherapist who walked with Reddy all through his 3,600-km long 'praja sankalp yatra', which propelled him to power in the southern state with a landslide victory in 2019.
"Dear voter of Tirupati, my letter urging you to vote for our candidate Gurumoorthy in the upcoming Tirupati Lok Sabha bypoll must have reached you," said the YSRCP founder. He exuded confidence that voters would support YSRCP after taking note of the state government's welfare activities in the last 22 months.
"Even if I personally do not campaign or request for votes in public meetings, I know that for your children, sisters, villages and towns, for our Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Backward Classes and minority brothers and sisters, for our elders, you will support our government," the Chief Minister said. He reminded the voters of the personal letter he wrote to each family, listing the welfare schemes they benefited from.
Reacting to the Chief Minister choosing to campaign for his candidate for the bye-poll, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National Secretary and party's Andhra Pradesh co-incharge, Sunil Deodhar, earlier claimed that the ruling YSRCP was 'worried'.
"Now Chief Minister, too, is coming for campaigning in Tirupati bye-poll, which wasn't his earlier plan. This shows that YSRCP is worried about the BJP-JanaSena Party gaining ground," said Deodhar.
However, in the recently concluded rural and urban local body polls, Reddy's YSRCP won landslide victories without him asking for votes. Tirupati Lok Sabha bye-poll is the first decisive election after the 2019 General Elections in Andhra Pradesh, necessitated by the untimely death of YSRCP MP Balli Durga Prasad in 2020 due to coronavirus.