The political careers of these five Union Ministers now largely depend on the perception of voters than on issue-based promises

The forthcoming elections will undoubtedly leave an indelible imprint on the political careers of these five Union Ministers, as they would be fighting the political battle of their lives now. It’s not the issue-based political promises they make that are going to decide their political futures, but their success would largely depend on how the voter had perceived their role in the division of the State.

Coming as it does after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the election on May 7, would certainly put to test the political astuteness of each of these five Union Ministers - Kotla Jayasuryaprakash Reddy (Kurnool), Vyricherla Kishore Chandra Suryanarayana Deo (Araku), Mangipudi Mangapati Pallam Raju (Kakinada), Killi Kruparani (Srikakulam) and Panabaka Lakshmi (Bapatla). They now stand before their electors and await the verdict.

Here is an on-the-spot assessment on the political situation in their Lok Sabha constituencies.

Union Minister of State for Railways Kotla Jayasuryaprakasa Reddy should have been comfortable in his home constituency had the bifurcation not taken place. The minister and his late father Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy represented the constituency more than half a dozen times and nursed the constituency carefully. They were known to be non-controversial leaders who were easily accessible to people.

However, the bifurcation of the State led to large scale migration of Congress cadres to other parties and only a small section of loyalists remain with him. If this is a drawback for him, the consolation for him could be the possible support from muslims. Butta Renuka from YSRCP and KE Prabhakar from TDP are likely to be challenge him at the hustings. Mr. Reddy would fare a shade better in eliciting some affectionate response from people during the canvassing, when compared to other Congress leaders in the district.

Mr. Reddy can claim to have initiated a slew of railway projects in his constituency during his brief stint as minister which would help him overcome the negative impact of the Congress to some extent.

Tribal Welfare Minister Vyricherla Kishore Chandra Suryanarayana Deo got elected from Araku constituency, with a massive majority of 1.92 lakh majority. He polled more votes that the combined votes polled by his two rivals Dr. M. Babu Rao (CPI-M) and Meenka Simhachalam (PRP).

But like any other Congress candidate, Mr. Deo, the scion of Kurupam royal family, is weighed down by the party’s reputation that took a beating after the bifurcation. The five-time member of Lok Sabha and one-time Rajya Sabha member can now only bank on his clean image and simple style.

Proposal for bauxite mining in Visakha Agency is an issue top on the minds of tribal voters and Mr. Deo came out strongly against this proposal but this alone may not help him. Araku constituency spans over four districts—Palakonda in Srikakulam; Kukrupam, Pavrathipuram and Saluru in Vizianagaram; Araku Valley and Paderu in Visakhapatnam and Rampachodavaram in East Godavari.

The anti-Congress wave that is visible in the Kakinada Parliamentary constituency might have an adverse effect on the winning chances of Union Minister Mangipudi Mangapati Pallam Raju. Well-known for his loyalty to the Congress party, Mr. Pallam Raju, a third generation leader from the Mangipudi family is now being criticised for what people term as his “stoic silence” during the division of the State. Mr. Pallam Raju had time and again maintained that except the media the public were not bothering about the division issue.

However, the scenario at the ground level could be different.

The Congress is not so strong in the Assembly segments forming Kakinada Lok Sabha constituency. Though the political equations are changing fast, the scenario is not in favour of the Congress. As Mr. Pallam Raju had been projected more as a Congressman than a political leader, the election is going to be tough for him.

Union Minister of State for Communication and Technology Killi Kruparani is hoping to win the Srikakulam Parliament constituency despite the negative impact of the State bifurcation on the Congress Party. She is banking on her clean image and developmental activities she initiated to win the hearts of people. She would also miss no opportunity to highlight how she opposed the division of the State arguing that it would be detrimental to backward areas like Srikakulam.

She could draw the attention of top leaders like AICC President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh as she could defeat mighty TDP leader K.Yerrannaidu who was the Parliamentary party leader of Telugu Desam. After she was inducted into the Union Cabinet 2012 she took up some developmental activities. She could bring Rs.50 crore for the construction of National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology training center.

Postal and BSNL networks were improved nook and corner of the district. She tried to please youngsters with distribution of PC tablets with the association of local industries.

Mrs. Kruparani hopes to get support from her Kalinga community which has more than 2 lakh votes in the district. She also plans to win over the Kalinga Vysya community which has 1.2 lakh votes in the ensuing elections as she had tried to get them included in the backward class list.

“It is unfair to criticize Congress party for the division of the State since every party was responsible for it. So, it cannot disturb my poll prospects. I will win the seat with comfortable majority,” Mr.Kruparani exudes confidence.

Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Panabaka Lakshmi, a three time MP from Nellore, was elected from Bapatla (SC) Lok Sabha segment in 2009 with a margin of 69,336 votes over her nearest rival Malyadri (TDP).

Ms. Lakshmi, after facing some rough weather from recalcitrant local MLAs, was appearing to consolidate her hold when the bifurcation issue came out from the blue dampening her prospects of a reelection.

Post bifurcation, though, Ms. Lakshmi has been consistent in her stand though personally she was against the division of the state, she would abide by the party’s decision.

The Bapatla Lok Sabha segment is spread across the coastal mandals in Guntur and Prakasam districts and consists of seven Assembly segments- Bapatla, Repalle, Vemuru (SC) in Guntur and Parchur, Addanki, Chirala and Santhanuthalapadu (SC) segments in Prakasam district. The segments have a sizeable voting of Dalit/Dalit Christians/BC/Fishermen community/Muslim communities.

At a time when the traditional vote bank of Congress (Dalit/Dalit Christians/Muslim), appeared to have shifted to YSR Congress, Ms. Lakshmi appears to on a weak wicket and her chances of retaining her seat appear rather slim. Congress has not able been find candidates for the three Assembly segments in Guntur District.