As the first election being fought by YSR Congress Party of Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy outside of his home turf Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency, the Kovur Assembly by-poll has assumed significance with people closely waiting to see the support built by the fledgling party.
Till a few days ago, the mood looked overwhelmingly in favour of YSR Congress when party leaders talked about a Kadapa-like performance with party nominee for Kovur ‘all set' to get a majority of 60,000. As electioneering progressed, it has become clear that it is going to be a tough fight.
Taking it as a prestigious election, Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy is touring extensively in all five mandals of Kovur segment seeking support for party nominee N. Prasanna Kumar Reddy. TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu also held a hectic campaign for his party candidate S. Chandramohan Reddy.
The Congress campaign has remained low-key from the beginning with party nominee Polamreddy Srinivasulu Reddy mostly relying on support from groups led by Finance Minister Anam Ramnarayan Reddy, Magunta Parvathamma, Union Minister Panabaka Lakshmi and others. In 2009, Mr. Prasanna Kumar contested on a TDP ticket and defeated present Congress nominee Mr. Srinivasulu Reddy by a margin of 7,444 votes. He has now distanced himself from the TDP and moved over to Jagan's camp.
The campaign has turned vituperative as rival leaders, setting aside main issues, have begun hurling personal allegations against each other. TDP mounted a massive campaign against Mr. Prasanna Kumar in order to create a situation where his candidature is seen as a liability for the YSRCP. Though Mr. Chandramohan Reddy is Prasanna Kumar's maternal uncle, he is not mincing words in criticising his nephew.
The problems of sugarcane farmers under the Kovur Cooperative Sugar Factory, closure of Kovur Thermal Station and acquisition of 2,750 acres for Kisan SEZ are some of issues brought into focus by political parties during their campaign.
As Kovur is the only seat going to by-poll in Andhra region compared to six seats in Telangana, top leaders of all parties have intensified their efforts. YSRCP has pinned its hopes on the late YSR's image and support from the numerically strong communities of Reddys and Malas besides Muslims. On the other hand, the TDP wants to benefit from a split in these communities besides getting considerable support from Yanadis, Madigas, Pallekarulu, Kammas, Yadavas, Gouds, and other backward communities.