: In what could be a make or mar election for top political leaders, the Seemandhra region is set to cast its vote on Wednesday amid fears over escalation in violence and heightened security.
Prominent candidates in the fray include TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, YSR Congress president Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and Union Ministers -- Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy, M.M. Pallam Raju, Kishore Chandra Deo and Panabaka Lakshmi.
Former Minister Daggubati Purandeswari, actor Balakrishna, industrialists like Galla Jayadev and Koneru Prasad are also among the high-profile candidates in the fray. More than 3.67 crore voters are set to exercise their franchise in the elections to 175 Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies. The second phase of general elections -- last in united Andhra Pradesh -- will see 2,574 candidates testing their electoral fortunes in Seemandhra. Of them, 333 aspirants are in the fray for 25 Lok Sabha seats, while 2,241 candidates are fighting it out for the 175 Assembly segments.
Mr. Naidu, who ran a hectic campaign touring the 13 districts of Seemandhra, is seeking re-election from Kuppam Assembly constituency in his home turf of Chittoor district. The TDP chief has been representing Kuppam since 1989. His brother-in-law Mr. Balakrishna, who is vying to make his foray into the electoral arena from Hindupur Assembly seat, also toured extensively. Mr. Balakrishna’s sister Ms. Purandeswari, who quit the Congress and joined BJP, is seeking to beat the odds from the Rajampet Lok Sabha constituency.
While Mr. Naidu is hoping to turn a new leaf for the TDP this time round, his arch rival Mr. Jagan Reddy is contesting the Assembly elections for the first time from the family stronghold of Pulivendula. Mr. Jagan had earlier entered Parliament from Kadapa Lok Sabha seat twice.
His mother, YSRC honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma is testing her luck from Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha seat where she is pitted against BJP Seemandhra unit president K. Haribabu. In a curious twist, Sabbam Hari, expelled Congress MP and Jai Samaikyandhra Party candidate from Visakhapatnam LS seat, withdrew from the contest to prevent split in votes. “If YSRC comes to power, it will only spread mayhem in new State of Andhra Pradesh,” Mr. Hari said.
As Mr. Deo is looking to come up trumps from Araku (ST) Lok Sabha seat again, his Cabinet colleague Mr. Pallam Raju is contesting again from Kakinada LS which he won thrice earlier. Ms. Lakshmi is fighting the election from Bapatla (SC) parliamentary constituency, while Mr. Suryaprakash Reddy is hoping to emerge victorious from Kurnool LS seat. Former Union Minister Rayapati Sambasiva Rao is testing his luck from Narsaraopet LS seat.
Apart from seasoned politicians, some leading industrialists and businessmen too are in the fray in Seemandhra. Koneru Prasad of Trimax Group, Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy of KMC Constructions, A. Ayodhya Rami Reddy of Ramky Group and S.P.Y. Reddy of Nandi Pipes A Ayodhya Rami Reddy are contesting on YSRC ticket from Vijayawada, Nellore, Narsaraopet and Nandyal Lok Sabha constituencies respectively. Mr. Jayadev is in the fray from Guntur LS seat on TDP ticket.
While the Congress is facing an uphill task, both the YSRC and the TDP are buoyant on winning the elections. In 2009, the Congress had won 19 of the 25 seats in the region.