Rayalaseema - battleground for Andhra chief ministerial candidates

April 19th, 2009 - 12:16 pm ICT by IANS  

By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, April 19 (IANS) With the first phase of assembly and Lok Sabha elections over in Andhra Pradesh, all eyes are on the Rayalaseema region that has turned into a battlefield for the three chief ministerial candidates, whose aggressive campaigns are being backed by their kin.

Rayalaseema, comprising four districts and the six south coastal districts, will go to polls in the second phase April 23. This phase will cover 20 Lok Sabha and 150 assembly constituencies.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who is seeking another term for his ruling Congress party, is contesting again from Pulivendula assembly constituency in his native Kadapa district.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu, who is trying to stage a comeback as the chief minister, is seeking re-election from Kuppam in his native Chittoor district for the fifth consecutive term.

Actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi is also contesting from Tirupati constituency in Chittoor district. Though he hails from the distant coastal Andhra region, the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) president is making his debut from the town that is home to the famous Lord Venkateshwara temple.

Like his political journey, the superstar is also hoping for a roaring success in electoral politics from the temple town, considered auspicious by many.

The actor, who launched his political party in August last year in Tirupati with a mammoth public meeting, is also contesting from Palakollu in his native West Godavari district.

Chiranjeevi is thus following in the footsteps of the legendary N.T. Rama Rao, who used to contest for more than one assembly seat.

Chittoor district is witnessing the climax of the electoral battle among the Congress, TDP-led Grand Alliance and PRP.

YSR, as the chief minister is popularly known, is taking the battle to his rival’s camps with an aggressive campaigning in Tirupati and Kuppam.

YSR’s son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who is making his debut from Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency, is taking on both Naidu and Chiranjeevi with his road shows. Both the father and son are set to address several meetings during the next couple of days to make things difficult for their rivals.

Naidu’s brother-in-law and popular actor N. Balakrishna have already campaigned in Kadapa, a stronghold of the YSR family. The TDP chief also roped in his son Lokesh for the electioneering. Though not an active politician like Jaganmohan Reddy, Lokesh is managing his father’s campaign in Kuppam.

Naidu and his allies are also holding a joint public meeting in Tirupati April 20 to take on both Congress and Chiranjeevi.

For the superstar, his family members including wife Surekha, actor son Ram Charan Teja, daughter Sushmita, actor brothers Pavan Kalyan and Naga Babu and even their families are campaigning in Tirupati.

The superstar himself is likely to wind up the campaign with a few public meetings in Tirupati.

YSR and Naidu are sitting pretty to win another term from their respective constituencies as they are facing relatively weak opponents. YSR is seeking a third consecutive term from Pulivendula. He had earlier represented the constituency on three successive occasions from 1978 to 1985.

Chiranjeevi, however, faces a tough battle in Tirupati against the Congress party’s B. Karunakar Reddy, a close friend of YSR and former chairman of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which manages the affairs of the Tirumala temple.

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