Congress rebel Jaleel Khan spoils the chances of Mallika Begum in Vijayawada West
VIJAYAWADA: Praja Rajyam Party candidate Vellampalli Srinivas trounced Congress rival and former Mayor Mallika Begum by a comfortable margin of 8,434 votes to capture Vijayawada West Assembly constituency, but the victory was clearly due to the taking away of as many as 13,845 votes by Congress rebel Jaleel Khan.
Mr. Srinivas established a clear lead from the third round itself and polled 51,423 votes, while Ms. Begum secured only 42,989. CPI candidate K. Subba Raju remained way behind with just 26,197 votes.
Quite evidently, the 13,845 votes polled by Mr. Khan are from the traditional Congress votebank in the constituency and the minority vote, which would have come to Ms. Begum had Mr. Khan not entered the fray.
Mr. Khan led a strong dissident campaign in the party against the candidature of Ms. Begum and even made a futile effort to get a directive issued by a section of the Muslim clergy against her. Despite such a massive opposition, Ms. Begum stayed firmly in the contest and managed to win the hearts of a few dissidents.
Though the Congress high command asked Mr. Jaleel Khan to withdraw his nomination, he continued at the cost of his party’s membership.
Strategy pays off
Mr. Subba Raju, fielded as a joint candidate of the Grand Alliance, failed to put up a good fight from the beginning, mainly due to internal bickering in his own party and the not-so-satisfactory cooperation by the TDP rank and file to him.
The PRP’s decision to field a candidate of the Vaishya community paid off, as he received widespread support from all the trading communities of One Town, besides communities like Nagaralu and Rellis, who are in good number in the constituency.
Interestingly, Mr. Srinivas won even as his party candidate in Vijayawada Central constituency Vangaveeti Radhakrishna, who recommended his name to Chiranjeevi, lost by a slender margin.
When reporters sought his reaction to his victory, Mr. Srinivas said:
“I am thankful to Mr. Radhakrishna for recommending my name to Chiranjeevi, but it is unfortunate that he lost the contest. I will live up to the expectations of people of Vijayawada West constituency and serve them.”