Campaigning picks up in Andhra Pradesh

April 7th, 2009 - 4:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Hyderabad, April 7 (IANS) Campaigning for the first phase of assembly and Lok Sabha polls in Andhra Pradesh has picked up momentum with top leaders of all the major parties stepping up efforts to woo the voters.
The electioneering gathered momentum with Congress president Sonia Gandhi addressing three public meetings in Telangana and north coastal Andhra regions Tuesday.

She is the first national leader of the ruling party to take up campaigning, which is by and large a one-man show by star campaigner, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

With Congress party’s general secretary Rahul Gandhi beginning his tour Wednesday, it is expected to give a further boost to the campaign. The young MP is scheduled to visit the state thrice before the first phase.

A total of 22 Lok Sabha and 154 assembly constituencies in north coastal Andhra and Telangana regions will go to the polls in the first phase on April 16.

With only a week left for the campaigning to end, all the major players are going all out to woo the voters. The chief minister has been on a campaign tour of Telangana, a key region, seeking another term on the basis of “pro-poor” schemes implemented during last five years.

“Mahakutami” or the grand alliance comprising Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), CPI and CPI-M also intensified its campaign. In the first show of unity, the leaders of all four parties came together last night to address a joint meeting in Suryapet in Nalgonda district.

TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and his bitter rival-turned-ally TRS leader K. Chandrasekhara Rao shared the dais to seek votes for the grand alliance. CPI national secretary A.B. Bardhan also addressed the meeting.

The national leaders of both the Communist parties are likely to address few more election meetings this week.

TRS and the two left parties had fought 2004 elections in alliance with the Congress party but this time they have joined hands with TDP.

The Congress is contesting on its own while the emergence of Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi has made it a three-cornered fight in majority of the constituencies.

Naidu and Chandrasekhara Rao are criss-crossing Telangana region. While separate statehood to Telangana region is the main issue of the TRS campaign, Naidu is highlighting the “rampant corruption” in the Congress rule and promising free colour television and a cash amount of Rs.1,000 to Rs.2,000 per month for every poor family.

Naidu is also supported by his brother-in-law and popular actor N. Balakrishna, who is addressing meetings in various districts. The TDP campaign suffered a jolt with its star campaigner and young actor Junior NTR meeting a road accident on March 26.

However, the TDP is hoping that the grandson of party founder and legendary actor N.T. Rama Rao will be fit to campaign in the constituencies going to polls in the second phase on April 23. The party is also using the video recordings of Junior NTR’s speeches for its election advertisements on television.

Junior NTR, who campaigned for two weeks in north coastal Andhra last month, proved a big hit with masses for his uncanny resemblance to his grandfather.

Chiranjeevi, who had so far concentrated on coastal Andhra, Tuesday launched his campaign in Telangana, conducting road shows in Nalgonda district. His brother and PRP leader actor Pavan Kalyan is campaigning on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

The campaign of the BJP, which is also contesting all 42 Lok Sabha and 294 assembly seats on its own, received a boost Monday when Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addressed a public meeting here. The party, however, has a limited presence, mainly in some urban areas of Telangana.

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