Not a cakewalk for the TDP this time

A keen contest is on the cards in the Eluru Lok Sabha constituency, which is one of the few in the country that spreads over two or more districts. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has renominated Maganti Venkateswara Rao (Babu), while the Jana Sena Party (JSP) has named economist Pentapati Pulla Rao as its candidate for the seat.

The YSR Congress Party (YSRC), which tried for a silent coup in the Kamma heartland by fielding a Kapu leader Thota Chandrasekhar last elections, has fielded Kotagiri Sridhar, a Velama, as its candidate this time in Eluru. Mr. Sridhar is the son of late Kotagiri Vidyadhara Rao, who served as a Minister in the Chandrababu Naidu Cabinet in combined Andhra Pradesh. The JSP has chosen a Kapu candidate for this election.

Mr. Maganti Babu romped home in 2014 defeating the YSRCP candidate Thota Chandrashekhar by over one lakh votes as the Congress faded away in the contest. This year too, the contest is expected to be between the TDP and the YSRCP although the JSP has made some inroads as well. More so, this election may not be a cakewalk for the sitting MP for various reasons. The people are up in arms against the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Assembly segments such as Polavaram (ST), Chintalapudi (SC), and Kaikalur, which is currently represented by the BJP.

The State government, apparently, could not "deal the Polavaram project displaced issue" in the desired fashion. Also, the Kolleru lake contours issue has not been addressed to. A major chunk of oil palm production is said to be from Eluru LS constituency. The farmers, however, get a price, far less compared to the neighbouring Telangana. The salinity of lands and irrigation water problem in Kaikaluru Assembly segment, Chintalapudi Lift Irrigation Scheme, which is expected to provide drinking water facilities to about 25.94 lakh population in 410 habitations are some of the other key issues.

The TDP replaced sitting MLAs in Chintalapudi and Polavaram Assembly segments. Notwithstanding, the "tide may not turn overnight in favour of the Telugu Desam in these segments." Majority of the voters in Kaikalur are from Backward Classes (BC), particularly the fishermen community. There is a demand to reduce the boundary of Kolleru Wildlife Sanctuary from five feet to three feet to mitigate the problems. Also, the majority of the Polavaram project displaced are tribals.

The Lok Sabha constituency has been a citadel for the Kamma community for many decades now. Six Kamma leaders got elected 13 times. Brahmin and SCs won two times each. The TDP managed to cement its place here since the early 1990s even though the Congress was a traditional powerhouse in Eluru. The Congress could win nine times since independence. Kavuri Sambasiva Rao got elected in 2004 and 2009. The Congress, however, in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, was absolutely decimated.

The constituency had seen close contests between the TDP and the Congress in the past. In fact, the TDP candidate Bolla Bulliramaiah could scrape through with a thin majority of 1,635 votes in 1996 against Maganti Babu, who contested on the Congress ticket in that election. The voter turnout here for the 2014 Lok Sabha election was one of the highest in Andhra Pradesh at 84.27 per cent. The overall State average was 74.47 per cent. The voter turnout was about 72% in 1999, and it rose to 78% in 2004 and crossed 84% in 2014. The people elected actor Krishna in 1989 defeating TDP candidate Bulliramaiah. This election, the female electors outnumber male voters by more than 19,000.

While the TDP leaders are confident that they would retain the seat, the YSRCP is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that history is rewritten given the caste and other permutations were considered.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 5:40:24 AM |

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