South India goes to polls during the first 3 phases of the General Elections 2019. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will be voting on Apr 11, the first day of polling. This article is the second of a 5-part series which tracks important candidates and constituencies in the state of Andhra Pradesh which are worth looking out for. The first part looked at constituencies from Telangana. The remaining parts will focus on the other states in the region.
Andhra Pradesh is going in for simultaneous polls for both its assembly and Lok Sabha. The ruling party Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has managed to avoid double incumbency by walking out of the National Development Alliance (NDA) led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But only time will tell if this alone will enough for it to avoid anti-incumbency at state level. After all, TDP had won the assembly elections with a very slender vote share margin (47.7% vs 45.4%) against YSR Congress Party led by Jaganmohan Reddy (popularly called Jagan) despite being in an alliance with the BJP and getting support from Jana Sena party of actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, TDP alliance had won 17 seats compared to 8 of YSRCP.
This time around, Jana Sena is fighting on its own and has been evoking decent responses both on the ground and in its online campaigns. YSR Congress Party has been relentless in its attacks on Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Jagan has been literally touring the state through his padayatra programs and hopes to have done enough to convince the electorate to give him a chance to lead the state. Naidu on the other hand hopes that his works and constant bashing of the BJP at the center will be enough to retain power. All this adds color to the fight in the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies. Andhra Pradesh goes to polls on April 11.
Former Union Minister for Civil Aviation P Ashok Gajapati Raju is the sitting MP from Vizianagaram having won in 2014. He hails from the Pusapati royal family, the ruling clan of Kalinga Vizianagaram. Raju is contesting again from TDP against Bellana Chandra Sekhar of YSRCP. Raju’s claim of development includes sanctioning of an international airport, horticultural college, medical college, university and veterinary college.
Bellana Chandra Sekhar, on the other hand, is banking on the support from the influential Botsa family. Botsa Satyanarayana was the MP in 1999 (from Bobbili constituency which has now become Vizianagaram after delimitation). His wife Botsa Jhansi Lakshmi was the MP from 2006 – 2014. Botsa family has now quit Congress and joined YSRCP.
Visakhapatnam (also known as Vizag) was one of the 2 seats won by BJP in 2014 (in an alliance with TDP). The outgoing MP K Haribabu has not been given a ticket this time. Rather Daggubati Purandeshwari, daughter of TDP founder and ex CM N T Rama Rao, is being fielded by BJP. She has earlier won this seat on a Congress ticket in 2009.
Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena Party has fielded ex-director of CBI V V Lakshminarayana who played a key role in investigating Jagan’s disproportionate assets case. YSRCP has fielded a businessman MVV Satyanarayana.
M V Sri Bharat, second son-in-law of Nandamuri Balakrishna (son of N T Rama Rao and father-in-law of Nara Lokesh, son of Chandrababu Naidu) has been fielded by TDP. The family angle makes it quite interesting in a multi-corner fight.
Amalapuram is generally considered a TDP stronghold. Former Lok Sabha speaker GMC Balayogi held this seat three times (1991, 1998 and 1999) for TDP. His son Harish who has been brought back from the United States is being fielded by TDP this time around against Chinta Anuradha, daughter of ex-MP Chinta Krishnamurthy, of the YSRCP.
Jana Sena is fielding a political novice DMR Sekhar, retired ONGC employee and is hoping to get the sizeable Kapu community votes in its kitty. Amalapuram should witness a keenly-contested triangular fight in a fight of political novices.
Noted industrialist, serial entrepreneur Prasad V Potluri has been fielded by YSRCP in this all-important constituency. Vijayawada being a commercial hub of Coastal Andhra, with its proximity to Amaravathi, the new state capital, becomes an important constituency for any political party.
Incumbent MP of TDP Kesineni Srinivas is contesting again and would hope that the Kamma community (which traditionally supports the TDP) will continue to vote for TDP. Kesineni is also a business tycoon with multiple companies spread in both the Telugu states. Kesineni hopes that his development works carried out in the last 5 years in Vijayawada city would be enough to carry him through.
Sitting TDP MP Galla Jayadev is a multi-millionaire industrialist and the managing director of Amara Raja Group which is known for its automotive battery brand Amaron. In 2014, when he had contested his first election, his declared wealth was a whopping 680 crores. In 2018, when TDP walked out of the central government, Jayadev had initiated the no-confidence. Motion. TDP has fielded Jayadev again. Just 2 days before the polls, his offices were raided by the Income Tax department which led him to launch a fresh attack against the Union government. He is up against Modugula Venugopala Reddy, son of freedom fighter Papireddy, of the YSRCP.
Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy, two-time CM of undivided Andhra Pradesh was an MP from Kurnool for 6 terms. His son Kotla Jayasurya Prakasha Reddy was unsuccessful in 2014 as a Congress candidate. He has now joined TDP and is trying his luck again.
YSRCP which had won in 2014 from Kurnool has fielded Dr Sanjeev Kumar, a practicing doctor and managing director of Kurnool-based Ayushman Hospitals.
Kadapa has been synonymous with YS Rajasekhar Reddy and his family for more than 2 decades now. YSR held this seat for 4 consecutive terms from 1989. After he became the Chief Minister, this seat was held by his younger brother Y S Vivekananda Reddy of the Congress. In 2009, Jagan won this seat on a Congress ticket. Angry at Congress for not making him the Chief Minister after his father’s untimely death, Jagan walked out of the party and formed his own party YSRCP and retained the seat in a bypoll in 2011. In 2014, Jagan’s cousin Y S Avinash Reddy won this seat for the YSRCP.
Avinash is seeking to win for the second time in 2019 and is pitted against Animal Husbandry Minister C Adinarayana Reddy.
What has made this constituency interesting is the murder of YSR’s brother Y S Vivekananda Reddy just a month before the polls. While Jagan and his family members have been quick to call it a political murder pointing fingers at TDP, TDP has been quick to respond saying this is a family feud with the YSR family. TDP claims that since both Vivekananda Reddy and Avinash Reddy wanted to contest from Kadapa, it led to this murder.
Tirupati is the largest city in the Rayalaseema region. Its cultural and commercial significance is understated. Every political party wants to win this prestigious seat. Former Union Minister Panabaka Lakshmi (4-time MP from Congress) has now joined TDP and is contesting from Tirupati. She is being challenged by Balli Durga Prasad of the YSRCP, a 4-time MLA from Gudur constituency (he was with TDP earlier). Both Panabaka Lakshmi and Balli Durga Prasad hail from the neighboring Nellore district making Tirupati a battle between ‘outsiders’.