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Updated: April 10, 2014 13:08 IST
MANDATE 2014

Rayapati’s exit opens up Guntur contest

P. Samuel Jonathan
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Three heavyweight industrialists, two debutants, to try their luck this time

Guntur Parliamentary constituency is all set to witness a battle among three big industrialists of whom two are making their electoral debut.

Jayadev Galla, vice-chairman of Amara Raja Batteries, Rs. 2,000 crore industry, is in the fray as Telugu Desam candidate and is pitted against former MP Vallabhaneni Balashowry (YSRC), who holds stakes in many industries including Kineta Power, a 1,850 MW power plant at Krishnapatam Port in Nellore.

Another industrialist in the fray is M. Udaia Kumar, founder and director of Share Microfin Ltd, who is contesting for fledgling Indian Christian Secular Party (ICSP), a party he founded recently.

Congress, though, has not made up its mind and might field an industrialist from Muslim/Vysya community. Yet, this was a segment represented by political stalwarts like Kotha Raghuramaiah and N.G. Ranga, who won three consecutive times even tiding over NTR’s sweeping popularity in 1984 elections. The exit of senior Congress leader Rayapati Sambasiva Rao, who won in four elections since 1996, has opened up the contest. The constituency with a combined voter strength of 15,06,134 consists of seven Assembly segments – Guntur West, Guntur East, Ponnur, Tenali, Prathipadu (SC), Mangalagiri and Tadikonda (SC).

In the elections held in 2009, the TDP managed to wrest just one seat – Ponnur segment, losing all six seats to the Congress. The Praja Rajyam Party played the spoiler as it cut into vote banks of both the Congress and TDP. The TDP candidates finished a close second in Guntur West, Tenali, Tadikonda and Prathipadu (SC).

Post bifurcation, the TDP is aiming to consolidate the collective anger among the voters and is hard selling the dream of reconstructing the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh, but is bogged down by indecisiveness in selection of candidates, balancing the caste factor and allotment of seats to the BJP.

The TDP had problems in identifying a suitable candidate against senior Congress leader Kanna Lakshminarayana in Guntur West Assembly segment. A tossup right to the finish line between Modugula Venugopala Reddy, the disgruntled MP from Narsaraopet and local businessman Tulasi Ramachandra Prabhu is sending confusing signals to the party cadre.

The party is still grappling to field a candidate from Arya Vysya community in Guntur East, a stronghold of minorities. The repeated promise of allotting three seats to BCs has sent the party leadership into a tizzy and finally, the party might field B. Srinivasa Yadav from Yadava community in Mangalagiri. It is still undecided over allotment of Narsaraopet segment to the BJP, which has no presence in the town. The TDP has not allotted a single seat to women candidates.

The YSRC is sitting pretty as it has almost finalised the candidates for all seven seats, except Tenali where the tossup is between Annabathuna Siva (Kamma) and Kilaru Rosaiah (Kapu). The party is fielding two candidates from Reddy community, Lella Appireddy (Guntur West) and Alla Ramakrishna Reddy (Mangalagiri), one each from Muslim community (Guntur East) and two from Kamma community– (Ponnur, Vinukonda), two from SC community (Tadikonda and Prathipadu) and one from Kapu community (Tenali).

Both Mr. Jayadev and Mr. Balashowry are beaming with confidence and are going about campaigning with a promise to create employment opportunities. Mr. Jayadev, being a new comer, has been trying to carve an image of pro-development while Mr. Balashowry is banking on welfare programmes promised by Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy.

Both the parties look strong on paper making the contest intriguing and the battle to win Guntur Lok Sabha may well go down the wire.

Keywords: TDPRayapatiGunturNarsaraopetCongress

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