Vijayawada

Old friends take on each other

There are no permanent friends or foes in politics, only permanent interests. The saying is more relevant in the case of Lok Sabha elections in Ongole, where erstwhile TDP colleagues Sidda Raghava Rao, party national treasurer, and Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy, who has jumped into the YSR Congress Party bandwagon on the eve of elections, are involved in a fierce electoral battle, though 10 others are also in the fray.

Mr. Reddy, who contested the 2014 elections on TDP ticket after switching over from the Congress and narrowly lost to his YSRCP nominee Y.V. Subba Reddy, has upset the TDP’s apple cart by switching over to the opposition party at the eleventh hour. This prompted Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to shift Mr. Rao, a granite baron from Darsi Assembly segment, in the last minute to Ongole Lok Sabha constituency from where the TDP had won only twice in the past, while the YSRCP once since its formation.

Though Mr. Rao was initially reluctant to throw his hat in the electoral ring here as he has been nursing his home constituency of Darsi for five years hoping to seek re-election from there, he fell in line at the behest of Mr. Naidu. Now, he is leaving no stone unturned to wrest the seat from YSRCP.

While canvassing for votes braving the scorching summer heat, Mr. Rao makes a mention of the road network he had created in the district as Roads and Buildings Minister earlier and sought people’s blessings to continue welfare and development initiatives with more vigour and wrest the State's dues from the Centre. Any vote for "anti-development" YSRCP will go against the interests of the State, he adds while making mention of YSRCP joining the Federal Front floated by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS).

On the other hand, Mr. Reddy stresses on early completion of the Veligonda project, which was fast-tracked by the former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who also completed a major portion of it when he was in office. The scion of YSR should come to power to compete the project, which had missed several deadlines set by the ruling TDP for its completion in the last five years, he adds during his whistle-stop campaign in the fluoride-affected western parts of the district as it faced drought for the fifth consecutive year in a row.

In the last elections, though the TDP won four of the seven Assembly seats — Kondepi(SC reserved), Darsi, Kanigiri and Ongole — leaving Yerragondapalem (SC), Giddalur and Markapur to the YSRCP, the YSRCP nominee for the Lok Sabha seat Y.V. Subba Reddy won the seat with about 1% margin thanks to unassailable leads established by the latter in the above three Assembly segments in western Prakasam. The latter's decision not to campaign for the party in Prakasam is likely to upset the calculations of Mr. Srinivasulu Reddy, who has won the seat thrice in the past as the nominee of the Congress, which he quit in 2014 in the wake of "unscientific" division of united Andhra Pradesh.

Bharatiya Janata Party's T. Srinivas Chowdary, who has also entered the fray, also went door-to-door explaining to the people that but for the Centre's assistance, the fledgling State could not have made any progress. If elected, he would impress upon the Centre to take up big ticket projects like Ramayapatnam sea port, National Investment and Manufacturing Zone without any further delay, he adds.

Jana Sena Party candidate B.Saibabu, a |High Court advocate, pleaded with the people to give a chance for his party to end money and muscle power in politics. The Veligonda project will be completed in 18 months of the JSP coming to power, to find a permanent solution to fluorosis problem, he tells people during campaign.

It was independent candidate M. Nanadass who bagged the seat despite a wave in favour of the Congress that swept the nation in 1952. But for victory of Communist Party of India nominee Madala Narayanaswamy in 1962, the seat remained a Congress citadel till the formation of the TDP, when its nominee Bezawada Papi Reddy wrested it from the Congress in 1984. Then again Karnam Balarama Krishnamurthy wrested the seat for the regional party in 1996 from the Congress, and it was the turn of the fledgling YSRCP to annexe the seat from the national party in 2014.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2021 9:29:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/old-friends-take-on-each-other/article26667220.ece

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