APCC chief's dharna at Collector's bungalow

RAJAHMUNDRY, JULY 6. The APCC chief, Mr. M. Satyanarayana Rao, along with almost the entire Congress leadership in the district, including the lone legislator, Mr. Jakkampudi Ramamohana Rao, squatted in front of the Collector's bungalow at Kakinada, about 60 km from here, on Friday demanding conduct of election to the Hussainapuram MPTC seat in Samalkota mandal in East Godavari district.

The `high drama' which started at about 11.00 am continued till 5.00 pm by which time, Mr. Rao decided to end the protest declaring that his party was able to expose the TDP's undemocratic practice and the partiality of the official machinery.

Mr. Rao came to the district to seek support for the Congress candidates and he was scheduled to address meetings at Rangampeta, Peddapuram, Sarpavaram etc. But when he was informed of the way election of the Hussainapuram MPTC was `conducted,' he decided to organise a dharna at the Collector's bungalow demanding `election' to the MPTC at Hussainapuram.

The Collector, Mr. Satish Chandra, said that the election officer for Hussainapuram MPTC declared the TDP candidate elected unopposed and he had no powers to cancel the result and order election. However, he was sending a detailed report to the State Election Authority.

The background of the episode is interesting. There were three candidates for the Hussainapuram MPTC seat - G. Varalakshmi of TDP, M. Damayanthi of Congress and another candidate by name Govindarajulu. On July 3, which was the last date for withdrawal of nominations, Mr. Govindarajulu withdrew from the field. It was the daughter of the Congress candidate who was also one of the proposers, who gave withdrawal letter on behalf of her mother, saying that her mother would come later.

Based on this, the election officer declared the TDP candidate elected unopposed. But then there was a phone call from the Congress candidate, Damayanthi, to the election officer that she was not withdrawing, prompting the election officer to issue notice that there were two candidates - namely TDP and Congress - in the field and election would be held.

Things took another turn when the Congress candidate Damayanthi claimed that she was prevented from coming to the election office and hence could not give withdrawal form in time. She wanted to withdraw, she said.

Mr. Thota Venkatachalam, DCC president, and other senior leaders of the party, including Messrs. Rangaih Naidu, former Minister, Mr. Ch. Ravindra, former MP, Mr. V. Arun Kumar, AICC member, and Mr. G. V. Harshakumar, State unit vice-president of the Youth Congress, were present.