Getting its candidate elected from Visakhapatnam, second biggest city in Andhra Pradesh after Hyderabad, is important for any political party. In the past, it has been represented by Tenneti Viswandham, Sir Vizzy, P.V.G. Raju and the former Chief Minister N. Janardhana Reddy.
Last time, the Congress fielded N.T. Rama Rao’s daughter D. Purandeswari, who won the seat and became a Union Minister of State: She, however, quit the party to join the Bharatiya Janata Party after the passing of the A.P. bifurcation Bill in Parliament.
This time the constituency is drawing attention with the YSR Congress nominating its honorary president and Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s wife Y.S. Vijayalakshmi (Vijayamma). Her choice is expected to boost the chances of the party in coastal A.P.
State BJP president and former MLA Kambhampati Haribabu is in the fray as part of the Telugu Desam Party-BJP alliance. The Congress candidate is Bolisetty Satyanarayana (Satya), who owns an IT company and a warehouse. The Jai Samaikyandhra Party nominee is Sabbam Hari, sitting MP from Anakapalle and former Mayor.
But the fight is essentially between Vijayamma and Dr. Haribabu, a former faculty member of the Andhra University College of Engineering. The focus is on how much dent Mr. Hari and Mr. Satya would make in the YSR Congress vote. The TDP, in spite of losing the last two elections, has its vote bank intact and the Congress too can bank on its own following.
While this is the political scenario, the locals’ wish of having a truly local candidate may remain unfulfilled. Ms. Purandeswari and Mr. Janardhana Reddy were visiting MPs and failed to get Visakhapatnam its due from the Centre.
The YSR Congress, which relies on people’s gratitude, particularly among the poor, to the late YSR for his many welfare programmes, is confident of a big win for Vijayamma.
The factors of a BJP candidate being in the fray; allocation of ticket to candidates for the Assembly elections well in advance keeping caste equations and money power in mind; an unwavering vote bank of Christians and Scheduled Castes now joined by Muslims, and cross-voting when it comes to a Lok Sabha election will work in its favour, feels the YSR Congress. It is not unduly concerned at the moderate response to Vijayamma’s roadshows in the city.
Dr. Haribabu is confident that the educated section would prefer the TDP-BJP combine to Jaganmohan Reddy, who is accused of scams and is facing cases. He is also banking on the Narendra Modi factor and the efficient governance N. Chandrababu Naidu would provide to the new State.
During the last few days, Dr. Haribabu’s campaign has picked up with senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu participating in roadshows and conclaves with different sections of the people.
However, TDP cadres have yet to launch themselves full scale into the campaign and that is an issue with the BJP. But a public meeting scheduled to be addressed by Mr. Modi along with Mr. Naidu and film star Pawan Kalyan in the city is expected to give a boost to the BJP campaign.
The constituency has seven Assembly segments — Visakha South, Visakha West, Visakha North, Visakha East, Gajuwaka, all urban; Bheemunipatnam, semi-urban; and S. Kota, in the neighbouring Vizianagaram district, a rural segment.