Delimitation exercise in 2009 turned Chandragiri into a bag of oddities. From the south-western part of Tirupati, the constituency extends 40 km to Yerravaripalem skirting the Talakona forests. In a sense, the candidates will have to tackle a heady mix of the literate urban voters and the sensitive electorate of the countryside.
Galla Aruna Kumari, a two time minister in the Congress Cabinet, recently crossed over to Telugu Desam Party (TDP) along with her industrialist son Galla Jayadev and is seeking vote on the new platform. As the daughter of former Chittoor MP late P. Rajagopala Naidu, she evolved into a vibrant leader. Along with her husband Galla Ramachandra Naidu, who founded the Amara Raja group, she established factories in rural areas, provided jobs to locals and made a visible impact in their lives.
There indeed are some factors to negate these ‘feel-good initiatives’.
Her continued presence on the political landscape for three decades resulted in anti-incumbency, while her switchover is hard to digest for the TDP cadre even in party supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu’s native Chandragiri mandal.
She defeated TDP’s R.K. Roja by over 10,000 votes in 2009. The synchronisation of her followers into the TDP is easier said than done and hence it is going to be a tight-rope walk for her. With her sudden exit, the Congress is bereft of a candidate who can give a semblance of fight.
Pitted against her is YSR Congress candidate Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy, who served as TUDA Chairman and by virtue of it, as an ex-officio member of TTD trust board.
Travelling to every corner to consolidate his position since the party’s formation, he has kept the ‘YSR tempo’ alive all these years. With ‘Make Jagan CM’ slogan after YSR’s demise, this hardcore Jagan loyalist remained bearded for more than a year, making a vow to Lord Venkateswara.
Half of the 2 lakh votes in the segment are in Tirupati Rural mandal, which makes it the game-changer. Chandragiri and Pakala share the second position, followed by Ramachandrapuram, Yerravaripalem and Chinnagottigallu.
While some followers sailed along with Aruna to TDP, some at the grassroots moved over to YSRC. As TDP does not have a candidate to project, Aruna not only became a natural choice, but is also hoped to help consolidation of Kamma votes. She now banks on her trusted lieutenants to focus on wooing back her cadre.