ANDHRA PRADESH

Irrigation, health major areas of concern

VIZIANAGARAM DISTRICT

Assembly constituencies: 12

Lok Sabha: 2

(Bobbili &

Parvathipuram-ST)

Voters: 16,12,524

Male: 7,81,915

Female: 8,30,609

By V.Chalapati Rao

VIZIANAGARAM DISREICT is an exception in the North Coastal Andhra region as it stormed the Telugu Desam bastion by winning half the Assembly and Lok Sabha seats in 1999 elections.

One of the most backward districts in the State, the economy is predominantly agriculture-based with 80 per cent of people residing in rural areas. Responding to the demand of locals, the Chief Minister recently laid the foundation stone for Thotapalli and Peddagadda projects but the Government did not committed itself to sources of funding for their execution or to a plan of action for executing the Jhanjhavathi project.

With a 10 per cent tribal population, the district faces peculiar problems. Viral fevers and gastro-enteritis are a regular phenomenon during summer and monsoon in agency areas, many of them inaccessible by road. Naxalism, which struck roots in the early 1970s, is re-emerging. Notable among the stalwarts who represented Vizianagaram is P. V. G. Raju, who served as MLA for four terms and MP for three more.

An analysis of past elections shows that voters have traditionally favoured non-Congress parties with the TDP making a sweep of all the 12 seats in 1994. It was only in the 1999 Assembly elections that the Congress wrested six seats. In the six elections to Lok Sabha held since 1984, the TDP won four times from Bobbili and conceded the seat to the Congress twice.

But, the honours were more evenly shared in Parvathipuram (ST) where the TDP-backed Congress(S) candidate got elected in 1984. The TDP won the seat twice and the Congress thrice. In local body elections, the TDP and the Congress secured an almost identical 49 per cent share of votes. As a result, the 34 ZPTC seats were equally shared but luck favoured the Congress whose nominee was declared elected as Zilla Parishad chairman through the toss of a coin.

A notable feature of this district is that three TDP candidates have remained undefeated in the Assembly elections. They are P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, who has been winning without a break from Vizianagaram, P. Narayana Swamy Naidu (Bhogapuram) and Kolla Appala Naidu (Uttarapalli). Only four MLAs in the State have been elected seven times out of which two -- P. Sambasiva Raju and Kolla Appala Naidu -- belong to Vizianagaram. Although the TDP has a veteran like Mr. Ashok Gajapathi Raju at the helm, there is lack of coordination in the ruling party. The Rajya Sabha member, K. Kala Venkata Rao, is an aspirant for the Vunukuru Assembly seat while his sister-in-law, K. Mrunalini, is reportedly seeking the Bobbili Lok Sabha ticket. D.V.G. Shankar Rao is seeking re-election on TDP ticket from Parvathipuram Parliament constituency.

Botsa Satyanarayana, member of the dissolved Lok Sabha from Bobbili is prominent among the Congress leaders. The District Congress Committee (DCC) president, V. Varada Rama Rao, however, resents his domination and at one time, he also threatened to quit his post.

The Congress cadre feels that there is a strong anti-incumbency factor and it can give a stiff challenge to the TDP provided it selects the right candidates.