A David vs Goliath battle shaping up in Vijayawada West

April 19, 2024 08:49 am | Updated 08:49 am IST

YSRCP leader Kesineni Srinivas (Nani) campaigning in support of party candidate for Vijayawada West Assembly constituency Shaik Asif, in 43rd division in Vijayawada. File photo

YSRCP leader Kesineni Srinivas (Nani) campaigning in support of party candidate for Vijayawada West Assembly constituency Shaik Asif, in 43rd division in Vijayawada. File photo | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ballot battle: A keen tussle on the cards in Vijayawada West Assembly segment (

VIJAYAWADA

A keen tussle is on the cards in Vijayawada West Assembly constituency where the ruling YSRCP candidate Shaik Asif, a new face in the election arena, is locking horns with former Rajya Sabha member, former Union Minister and a businessman Yalamanchili Satyanarayana (Sujana ) Chowdary, who is the face of the TDP-JSP-BJP (NDA) alliance in the electoral battle.

One of the seven Assembly segments of the Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency, Vijayawada West has always been considered a seat worth fighting for. The story is no different this time too.

Mr. Asif, who is a former corporator and A.P. State Minority Finance Corporation Chairman, has the advantage of having the ease of winning over the common man in the constituency unlike his opponent, considered a wealthy and influential businessman, who headed the Hyderabad-based Sujana Group of industries before joining politics.

Jana Sena Party leader Pothina Mahesh was seen as a strong contender for this seat, while Jaleel Khan, who has represented this constituency in the Assembly as a Congress MLA in the past, but has now shifted loyalty to the TDP, even threatened to commit suicide if denied the ticket, has fallen in line after being pacified by the party leadership. The names of a few other aspirants from the BJP like Adduri Sriram, Babburi Sriram and Tarun Kakani made rounds until Mr. Sujana Chowdary was suddenly ‘air-dashed’ by the alliance partners.

Mr. Chowdary’s strong lobbying for Vijayawada Lok Sabha seat went in vain, as ticket for this key Parliamentary segment was given to TDP candidate Kesineni Sivanath (Chinni), who is now engaged in a direct battle with his brother Kesineni Nani, who made a crossover to the YSR Congress Party after being denied the ticket.

Mr. Asif comes across as a commoner with ‘no frills’, a fact that comes handy for the ruling party leaders to portray the battle of the ballot in this segment as a ‘fight between the rich and the commoner and a local and a non-local’. Mr. Chowdary was under scanner following an allegation by a Mauritius bank that his company had defaulted on ₹1.92 billion loan it availed through a subsidiary. Referring to it, the ruling party leaders have been warning people against voting in favour of a ‘scamster’.

The last elections to Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in 2019 saw a close fight between the YSR Congress Party and the TDP. The YSRCP candidate Vellampalli Srinivas won by polling 58,435 votes, defeating his nearest opponent from TDP Shabana Khatoon, who polled 50,764 votes.

Ever since the constituency was established in 1967 as per the delimitation orders, the seat remained a Congress bastion in the initial phase before the party lost its grip, paving the way for opponents from CPI, TDP and YSR Congress Party to wrest this Assembly segment. Of the 12 Assembly elections fought so far here since 1967, the Congress won five times (in 1967, 1972 and 1978 continuously and in 1989 and 1999), the CPI three times (1985, 1994 and 2004), TDP once in 1983, Praja Rajyam Party in 2009 and the YSR Congress Party in 2014 and 2019.

The famous Kanaka Durga temple atop Indrakeeladri hill, tiny houses built on hilly terrain and ever-bustling commercial centres dot the densely populated Vijayawada West Assembly constituency.

The constituency has a large Muslim and Vysya population, while a sizeable number of families from Jain community have also made this segment their home.

Challenges galore

Local residents have been demanding a Government Degree College in this region. The Left Party leaders staged many protests last year and submitted a memorandum to the Collector. They also raised the issue in the municipal council meeting where the civic authorities expressed inability to do anything saying that it was a State subject. A plea to upgrade the 30-bed Shaik Raja hospital into a 100-bed facility is pending for long.

Elected representatives of the local bodies here say that almost 25% of the total population of this Assembly constituency lives on hilly terrain where basic amenities need to be improved. Though these human habitations encroaching patches of hill slopes have been regularised, residents here are denied registrations.

Construction of a promised stadium, the compound wall for which has already been built, is pending while absence of a proper drainage facility results in inundation of areas like Winchipeta, Kummari Veedhi, Mohantipuram, Jenda Chettu Road, Bhavanipuram, Rotary Nagar and HP Colony when it rains.

The less than 40-feet wide Yerrakatta traversing from Chittinagar junction to the Kedareswarapet mango market awaits widening to accommodate the thousands of vehicles passing through this route, while members of the Cloth Merchants Association (Vastralatha) are hopeful that their longstanding woes would be addressed by the new MLA, regardless of his party affiliation.

The CPI, which is part of the INDIA alliance, has also fielded its candidate B. Koteswara Rao from Vijayawada West Assembly constituency, but the main fight is between the YSRCP and the TDP-JSP-BJP (NDA) alliance.

For graphic points

Total electorate  ---- 254727

Male—126026

Female—128669

Third gender - 32

2019 elections:

YSR CP’s Vellampalli Srinivas won by polling 58,436 votes (38.04 %)

TDP’s Shabana Musaran Khatoon polled 50,764 votes (33.04 %)

JSP’s Pothina Venkata Mahesh polled 22,367 votes (14.56 %)

2024 elections:

YSR CP candidate- Shaik Asif

BJP- Y. Satyanarayana (Sujana) Chowdary

CPI- G. Kotewara Rao

Number of polling stations- 253

Number of critical polling station-97

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