G.V. Ramana Rao

Congress nominees elected nine times from the constituency

Issues related to Kolleru Lake dominate the election scene

Raja Babu first elected as TDP nominee in the 1993 byelection

VIJAYAWADA: An interesting triangular fight is on the cards in Kaikalur Assembly constituency among sitting MLA and Congress candidate Yerneni Raja Ramchandar, TDP candidate and new face Jayamangalam Venkataramana and Praja Rajyam candidate and another new face Kamineni Srinivasa Rao.

In the 13 elections conducted in this constituency so far, Congress candidates, including those contesting on Indira Congress, were elected nine times, while independent candidates were elected three times. The Telugu Desam Party candidate was elected only once in a by-election.

The constituency witnessed triangular fights in 1978 and 1999 when Congress rebel Kanumuri Bapiraju and TDP rebel Raja Ramchandar alias Raja Babu, respectively, won as independents. Both the independents later joined the Congress and were given tickets by the party in the subsequent elections.

As a constituency spread on the fringes of Kolleru Lake, issues related to the development of the lake and the livelihood of the poor living on its edges and in the islands always dominated the electoral scene. Issues relating to the reduction of the size of Kolleru wildlife sanctuary from contour 5 + to contour 3 + and livelihood to thousands of families that migrated here during aquaculture boom are dominating the scene in this election too. The failure of the authorities in effectively implementing the compensation package announced for the fishermen who lost their livelihood, as a result of implementation of Operation Kolleru on the directives of the Supreme Court, will also figure prominently in the campaign.TDP is the first major political party to give a ticket to a person who belongs to a community called ‘Vaddeelu’, which has traditionally eked out its livelihood from the lake. Mr. Venkataramana has a solid bank of 25,000 votes if the strength of his community is any indication.

Both the Congress and the Praja Rajyam have given tickets to Kamma candidates, though 30 per cent of the voters are BCs and 42 per cent are SCs and STs. The 40,000-strong Kapu voters too appear to have been overlooked.

Mr. Bapiraju holds the record of being elected four consecutive times. In 1978, he won over Indira Congress candidate S. Nageswara Rao by a very slender margin of 46 votes. After the exit of Mr. Bapiraju from the constituency, Raja Babu filled the void. He was elected three times, though not consecutively.

Raja Babu was first elected as TDP candidate in the 1993 by-elections. The very next year, he was defeated by Congress candidate Namburu Venkata Rama Raju (alias Ramu) in 1994. In the subsequent general election in 1999, he contested as TDP rebel and trounced film actress and the party’s official nominee Ghattamaneni Vijaya Nirmala. Given a ticket by the Congress in 2004, he defeated TDP candidate Kammili Vittal Rao by a narrow margin of 1,956 votes.

Mr. Srinivasa Rao was a long-time activist of the TDP and played an important role in its activities in the constituency but could never get ticket owing to local caste equations. As one of the early birds to join the Praja Rajyam in the district, party ticket came his way without much difficulty.