Intriguing contest between Galla, Balashowry and Shiak Abdul Waheed. Guntur Lok Sabha constituency is one of the key constituencies in the State.

The countdown for a high-stake contest has begun here with the major candidates in a neck-on-neck race to win the coveted Guntur Lok Sabha seat.

TDP nominee for the constituency Jayadev Galla, the businessman-turned politician and managing director of the Amara Raja Batteries, has plunged headlong into a gruelling campaign schedule and is pitted against the wily Vallabhaneni Balashowry, the YSR Congress candidate. The Congress has sprung a surprise by fielding a youthful Shiak Abdul Waheed in the battle field.

The road leading to the YSRC office at Nalanda Nagar is bustling with activity. Party workers are getting ready to start yet another roadshow in the town.

Dressed in a starched white shirt and matching trousers, Mr. Balashowry is usually found busy on his phone, calling up the local leaders as he finalises the poll strategy here. The former Tenali MP is cocksure of a win as he flips through a survey report he got it done recently. “I am pretty confident that we have a 10 per cent lead of vote share over my nearest rival. Our traditional vote banks have been consolidated and the final surge will take us through easily,’’ he says.

Guntur Lok Sabha constituency is one of the key constituencies in the State. The seven Assembly segments reflect the diversity of the region.

The segment has two reserved constituencies --Prathipadu and Tadikonda, a predominantly minority segment, Guntur East and two rapidly urbanizing segments of Guntur West and Tenali. The young turk knows that he has to face a stiff challenge from senior leaders like Kanna Lakshminarayana (Guntur West), Nadendla Manohar (Tenali) and D. Narendra Kumar (Ponnur). The YSRC appears to have an edge in Mangalagiri, Guntur East and Prathipadu while it would be in a neck-on-neck race in Tadikonda (SC).

Galla factor

On the other side, Mr. Jayadev is busy meeting party candidates at his sprawling guest house. His campaign is meticulously planned by his professional team. The senior Galla, Ramachandra Naidu, in his early 70s appears to be very confident for the polls this time. “Jay has infused a whiff of freshness into the campaign by his direct and plain speaking. He is convinced about the need for a change in the system. I am happy that people are accepting him,’’ says Mr. Ramachandra Naidu.

Potential

The Galla family says that it is keen on investing in food processing and unlock the tremendous potential of the region.

With the clouds of uncertainty over the candidates blowing over, Mr. Jayadev has picked up pace and is closing in on his nearest rival. Adding a personal touch to the campaign are Ramadevi, sister of Jayadev and Galla Padmavathy, his wife.

Minority card

Adding a new dimension to an already intriguing contest is the youthful Shiak Abdul Waheed, a surprise choice by the Congress, keen on dividing a sizeable vote bank of minorities.

Minority candidate

The Congress, which has taken a leaf out of the TDP’s book, by fielding a minority candidate, is hoping that the move could bring it closer to minorities.

“I am in the race and I will do my best to win the seat. The Congress has shown trust in me and I will not shy away from the contest,’’ says Mr. Waheed.

Yet another candidate who is making an earnest appeal to voters, M. Udaia Kumar, founder of the Indian Christian Secular Party, who too has been leading a spirited campaign.

Post-bifurcation, the people of Guntur have a choice to make and vote for a candidate whom they believe would take a lead in the reconstruction of the State.

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