Special Correspondent

The former MLA is confident that his past work will help him win this time

Congress yet to make up its mindBJP says it too is in the frayRehaman had won in the 1999 elections

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Telugu Desam Party is the first to announce its candidate for the byelection to the Visakha-I Assembly constituency by fielding former MLA S.A. Rehaman, while the Congress is yet to decide the nomination of City Congress Committee chief Dronamraju Srinivasa Rao.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, a former ally of TDP, announced it was in the fray but yet to decide on its candidate.

The by-election was necessitated following the death of senior Congress leader, Dronamraju Satyanarayana who won in the 2004 elections defeating K. Haribabu of the BJP.

Unani

Mr. Srinivasa Rao, eldest son of Satyanarayana, is the unanimous choice of all leaders of the party here and the announcement of his candidature from the high command is only a formality.

Some political observers here felt that the TDP had chosen Dr. Rehaman because of the sizable number of minority votes in the compact constituency and his familiarity with the people as a former MLA. Another reason being given was that TDP having jettisoned BJP used this by-election to get back closer to the minorities by fielding one of them as its candidate.

Dr. Rehaman won in the 1995 elections and also held the position of Chairman of the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority. He could not contest again in 1999 due to Visakha-I being allotted to the BJP as part of the poll alliance. Dr. Rehaman, who was upset over the party's decision, filed nomination as an Independent but withdrew later keeping in view the interests of the party.

Since the BJP won here in 1999, it was given the seat again in 2004. Dr. Haribabu could not stop the Congress wave and lost to Satyanarayana by a margin of more than 14,000 votes.

Sympathy factor

But Dr. Rehaman is confident that he would win in the by-election. "I have launched many programmes and works during my tenure as MLA. People still remember that. I am always in touch with them whether I am an MLA or not. They will certainly not ditch me,'' Dr. Rehaman told The Hindu while speaking on telephone from Hyderabad on Saturday.

Asked if the sympathy factor would work in favour of the Congress candidate, the former MLA said that it was for the people to decide. However, he felt that the people would like to have an MLA who was always with them and take care of all their problems.