ANDHRA PRADESH

The going may be tough for TDP candidate

VIJAYAWADA, APRIL 9. Despite being a seasoned campaigner, former MP, Ummareddy Venkateswarlu, of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is finding the going tough this time in the Tenali Lok Sabha constituency, where he is pitted against a 39-year debutant, Vallabhaneni Balashowry, of the Congress.

Out of the seven Assembly segments, the TDP had won four while the Congress three in the 1999 Assembly election. While Mr. Balashowry is generating considerable interest with his youthful exuberance, Dr. Venkateswaralu is banking on the developmental activities undertaken in the constituency during his tenure. The ongoing works on the Puligadda-Penumudi Barrage, the Aravinda Vaaradhi in Repalle, provision of passenger-friendly services in the Tenali railway station and construction of the ghat road up to the Panakala Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Devasthanam in Mangalagiri, are some of the works for which he is seeking credit.

The members in the dissolved Assembly from Avanigadda, Duggirala and Vemur appear to enjoy an edge over their rivals.

However, in the remaining four Assembly constituencies, the contest appears to be tough. Gogineni Uma of the TDP, who is seeking re-election from Tenali Assembly constituency, is locked in a fierce fight with Nadendla Manohar, of the Congress. The battle between, Dr. Uma a doctor, and Mr. Manohar, an MBA graduate, appears to be keen. Incidentally, both enjoy a family lineage, which could tilt the balance in favour of either. Dr. Uma who won the previous election inherited the political legacy from her mother Doddapaneni Indira, who had won the seat thrice in 1952, 1955 and 1962. Mr. Manohar, a first timer, is the son of the former Chief Minister, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, who won the seat in 1989.

The TDP candidate may not find the sailing smooth this time. A strong aspirant for the TDP ticket from the constituency, Raavi Ravindranath Chowdary, who had represented the seat in 1994, resigned from the party in protest against the denial of ticket. Dr. Chowdary along with some of his influential followers like Annabathuni Sivakumar and Annabathuni Sravan Kumar is expected to work against the TDP nominee.

In Repalle, the TDP candidate, Mummaneni Venkatasubbaiah, is facing problems from his ex-party colleague, Munagala Venkata Subba Rao, who on being denied the ticket resigned from his post of municipal chairman to contest an independent. Moreover, for the first time since 1989, the Congress has fielded a Kamma candidate, Devineni Mallikarjuna Rao.

In Vemur, the TDP candidate, Alapati Rajendra Prasad, may find it relatively easy for he has been working in the constituency with an eye on the polls since 2001. He represented the seat in 1994 and 1999.

Mr. Prasad is pitted against the Congress candidate, Satish Paul Raj, who is financially well off and owns engineering colleges. Though a kapu, Mr. Raj got himself converted into Christianity. He is expected to garner a good chunk of Christian, Dalit, Kapu and BC votes. Yet, Mr. Prasad has an edge over his rival.

Mangalagiri is witnessing a triangular fight as the Congress and the CPI(M) are contesting the seat with the BJP nominee, T.Janaki Devi, also in the fray. Because of the friendly fight between the Congress and the CPI(M), Dr. Venkateswarlu might gain, but not the BJP candidate. In Avanigadda, the Congress candidate, Mandali Buddha Prasad, seeking a re-election, appears to have an upper hand in the contest against his TDP rival, B. Ramesh Naidu. The former Minister, Simhadri Satyanarayana, and another TDP leader, Saikam Arjun Rao, have entered the contest as rebels to queer the pitch for Mr. Naidu. In Nidumolu, the Congress is supporting the veteran CPI(M) leader and former MLA, Paturi Ramaiah, who seems to have a clear edge over the TDP candidate, U. Kalpana, a political novice.

In Dugirala, the Congress candidate, Gudibandi Venkata Reddy, is sitting pretty and appears to have an edge over his TDP rival, Chandu Sambasiva Rao. The TDP initially fielded Venigalla Jayashree, but chose to replace her with Mr. Rao.

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