Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Kadapa by-election: It's fight for prestige, survival and strength

By Syed Akbar
Kadapa, May 4: It’s a fight for prestige, survival and strength in Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency, which goes to polling on May 8. For the ruling Congress, winning the bypoll has become an issue of political prestige, while the main Opposition Telugu Desam seeks to further strengthen itself by wresting this prestigious seat. And for the YSR Congress, it’s the question of its very survival.
That all the three contenders are serious in winning this Lok Sabha seat in the backward and parched Rayalaseema region is clear from their fast changing campaign style and the amount of money being pumped through the backdoor. In many villages these parties vie with one another in keeping their “muscle power” in tact, and defecting to rivals at the eleventh hour. Senior party leaders have been made in-charge of cluster of villages to ensure that the rival “money and muscle power” does not mar their winning chances.
Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu spent as many as five days campaigning in Kadapa LS segments. This is the first time that the TD leader had devoted so many days for any by-election in the last 16 years. Not to lag behind, the Congress utilized the services of Chiranjeevi, who spent four days touring most of the constituency. Incidentally, the Praja Rajya leader did not devote so much time even for his party 
candidates during the 2009 Assembly polls.
For YSR Congress winning both Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula Assembly seats is indeed a “matter of life and death”. A victory in both the constituencies will keep alive the political hopes of YSR Congress and its president YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who is contesting from Kadapa Parliament constituency. His mother, Vijayalakshmi, is re-testing her electoral luck from Pulivendula.
A large number of YSR’s admirers and supporters, who are presently in the Congress, are adopting a wait and watch policy. If YSR Congress wins both the seats, there will be an exodus of young leaders from the Congress and the Telugu Desam to the Jagan camp, as they see in Jagan a future leader of the State. If the party loses even one seat, the very survival of YSR Congress will be at stake.
For the Congress, Kadapa and Pulivendula have become symbols of political prestige. A loss in both the places will invite more trouble to the ruling party, though the defeat will not impact the Congress government much. It will have to face the Herculean task of keeping the party flock together, from defecting to Jagan’s party. This has become particularly important for the Congress after Jagan’s warning that he would pull down the government within six months.
The Telugu Desam, which has lost much of its base in Telangana, will see in Kadapa bypolls a revival of its strength in Rayalaseema region. A win will come as a much-needed morale booster for Chandrababu Naidu and will help him revitalize the Telugu Desam in YSR’s bastion.
The voters, however, are playing their cards close to chest, attending in large numbers the meetings conducted by all the three parties. With huge turnouts at their meetings, Congress, Telugu Desam and YSR Congress are a bit wary of the electoral outcome.

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