YSR Congress, TDP clash for power in Seemandhra (Curtain Raiser)
The YSR Congress and the TDP-BJP combine are set for a direct clash in Seemandhra as the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh braces for assembly and Lok Sabha elections Wednesday.
Seemandhra, which will come into being as a new state of Andhra Pradesh next month, will witness a showdown between the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance in most of the 175 assembly and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies.
The Congress is visibly lagging far behind due to public anger over the state's bifurcation while the newly-floated Jai Samaikyandhra Party (JSP) has little presence.
About 36.76 million people are eligible to vote in the second phase of balloting in Andhra Pradesh that will cover 13 districts - nine in coastal Andhra and four in Rayalaseema.
Under the first phase, polling for 119 assembly and 17 Lok Sabha seats was held April 30 in the Telangana region.
The Election Commission is conducting the polls in the united Andhra Pradesh and the elected legislators will be allotted to their respective states after their formation next month.
While in Telangana all the major parties vied with each other in claiming credit for formation of a separate state, it was the blame game in Seemandhra as major contenders for power accused each other of colluding with the Congress to divide the state.
The JSP floated by former chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy held all other parties responsible.
The corruption allegations against YSR Congress leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who spent 16 months in jail, was the main issue highlighted by the TDP-BJP alliance.
TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu, a contender for the chief minister's post, targeted Jaganmohan Reddy and his late father Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy over the corruption allegations against them.
Naidu promised to turn Seemandhra into 'swarnandhra' or golden Andhra. He is highlighting how he developed Hyderabad as a software hub when he was the chief minister from 1995 to 2004.
BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed five meetings on a single day. Sharing dais with Naidu and Pawan Kalyan, he had a dig at YSR Congress by asking people to choose between 'swarnandhra' and 'scam Andhra'.
The BJP is contesting 13 assembly and four Lok Sabha seats in Seemandhra. YSRCP, which is going alone, initially lagged behind the BJP-TDP as many Congress leaders joined the TDP after Telangana was formed.
But intensive campaign by Jaganmohan Reddy and, his sister Sharmila and mother Y.S. Vijayamma helped the party to regain ground.
Projecting himself as the 'messiah' of the poor, Jaganmohan Reddy banked heavily on the pro-poor image of his father who died in a helicopter crash in 2009, a few months leading the Congress to a second consecutive term.
The young leader, who quit the Congress and floated the YSR Congress in 2010, attacked Naidu.
Jaganmohan Reddy, a big crowd puller, promised to transform Andhra Pradesh if he formed a government.
His promises include Rs.1,000 per month for education for every child, waiver of loans for women self-help groups and construction of 50 lakh houses for the poor.
While assuring full security to the people Seemandhra living in Hyderabad, Congress leaders highlighted the special package announced in parliament.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi addressed only two meetings in Seemandhra.
The Congress campaign was led by the central minister K. Chiranjeevi. While the actor-turned-politician was out to defend the Congress, his younger brother Pawan Kalyan asked people to bury the Congress.
For parliamentary elections in Seemandhra, 333 candidates are in the fray while 2,246 contestants are testing their political fortunes in 175 assembly constituencies.
The most prominent among the contestants for Lok Sabha elections are cabinet ministers and Congress leaders Kishore Chandra Deo (Araku) and Pallam Raju (Kakinada), YSR Congress honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma (Visakhapatnam), former central minister D. Purandeswari of BJP (Rajampet), industrialists Galla Jayadev of TDP (Guntur) and Ayodhyarami Reddy of YSR Congress (Narsaropet).
The candidates for assembly elections include Chandrababu Naidu, Naidu's son-in-law and popular actor Balakrishna (Hindupur) Jaganmohan Reddy (Pulivendula) and state Congress chief Raghuveera Reddy (Penukonda).
(Posted on 05-05-2014)