Tirupati: YSR Congress Party appears to be all set to retain the Tirupati Lok Sabha seat in the by-election to be held on April 17.
The by-poll to the seat reserved for Scheduled Caste is being held for the vacancy caused due to the untimely death of YSRCP MP Balli Durgaprasad. The YSRCP, riding high on the success in the recent Panchayat and Municipal elections, has now fielded a youthful Gurumoorthy, who is new to politics, and claims its victory is a foregone conclusion. It is said that the main opposition party – the Telugu Desam Party is trying to retain its second place with the BJP-Jana Sena Party combine also in the fray. The YSRCP is hoping for over a three lakh vote majority and it certainly is not counting the chicken before they are hatched.
The ruling party’s confidence stems from the fact that during the 2019 elections, it won all the seven Assembly segments in the constituency–Tirupati, Srikalahasti and Satyavedu in Chittoor district and Gudur, Sullurpeta, Venkatagiri and Sarvepalle in the neighbouring Nellore district which comprise the Tirupati Lok Sabha constituency.
Balli Durgaprasad defeated the former Union minister Panabaka Lakshmi by a margin of 2,28,376 votes for the Tirupati Lok Sabha seat, and if the recent elections to the local bodies is any indication, YSRCP should win hands down.
The TDP has fielded the same candidate Lakshmi who is not exactly happy with the situation. The party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, who also belongs to the constituency, has been campaigning on a daily basis this week to woo the voters braving the torrid weather but whether his efforts will be successful, remains to be seen.
The BJP-Jana Sena combine has given the ticket K Ratnaprabha, a former Chief Secretary of the neighbouring Karnataka State. On her request, film star and Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan also participated in a road show soliciting votes for Ratnaprabha who cannot be said to be playing her cards well. She began by saying that the Centre would not be able to give special category status to Andhra Pradesh which came as a shock to the ordinary voter.
For, it was here in the same temple town, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised special status during 2014 elections, in the presence of both Chandrababu and Pawan Kalyan who were on the dais.
Now, they have given the YSRCP a stick to beat with, which the latter is exploiting to the hilt. It is questioning the rivals–the TDP, the BJP and Jana Sena Party as to why they were now not talking of the SCS and the bifurcation promises which include release of funds to backward regions.
YSRCP campaign is drawing larger crowds than the rivals and the new face Gurumoorthy, a physiotherapist who accompanied Jagan during the latter’s padayatra, is projected well by all senior leaders. Though this drew some sardonic remarks from BJP senior leaders like GVL Narasimha Rao who called for ‘choosing between the candidate who served Jagan and the one who served the people’, Ratnaprabha remains a stranger not only to Tirupati but also to a place like Visakhapatnam where she served as a bureaucrat for over a decade. On the other hand, Jagan is appreciated for giving a chance to Gurumoorthy who hails from a poor family unlike his affluent rivals.
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