Kadapa: The curtains were drawn on the no-holds-barred campaigning on Friday at 5 pm in the Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula Assembly constituencies which are slated to go to polls on Sunday May 8. The resignation of Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his mother Vijayalaxmi to the Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula Assembly seats respectively, following differences with AICC President Sonia Gandhi necessitated the by-elections.
In an apparent move to put the spanner in the wheels of the ruling Congress, Jagan Mohan Reddy launched the YSR Congress by invoking the name of his late father and Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and seeking re-election from Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency as a YSR Congress nominee. Even his mother Vijayalaxmi is seeking re-election as a nominee of her son’s newly launched party.
The ruling Congress, more than others, has heavy stakes in the by-elections as its very survival in the state hinges on the outcome of the by-elections. What is more the very prestige of the AICC President Sonia Gandhi is at stake as her advice and diktat not only failed to reign in the rebellious and maverick Jagan Mohan Reddy but led to his taking cudgels against her. Thus all said and done, the by-elections has become a do or die battle for the ruling Congress in the state.
The three-week long bitter and fierce electioneering which gained nationwide political attention turned out to be more of a smear campaign and mudslinging match between the Congress, YSR Congress and the Telugu Desam, the three major contestants, which are determined to grab the two seats by hook or crook. Thus washing dirty linen openly has become the order of the day for all the three parties during electioneering. As a result local issues and the problems confronting both the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies have been relegated to the background or conveniently buried. The YSR Congress took a lead over the others in launching its campaign well in advance while the Congress and Telugu Desam were busy burning the midnight lamps in deciding their respective party nominees. After many brain-storming sessions, the Congress zeroed in on Health Minister D. L. Ravindra Reddy to take on Jagan Mohan Reddy in Kadapa Lok Sabha constituency, while Telugu Desam decided to field its Rajya Saba member M.V. Mysoora Reddy.
In the Pulivendula Assembly constituency, the ruling Congress strategically fielded Agriculture Minister Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy against his own sister-in-law Vijayalaxmi, wife of late YSR contesting as a YSR Congress candidate. The Congress nominee later quit his ministerial post proclaiming to be on moral grounds despite the fact that his term as an MLC expired by that time. The TDP on the other hand selected a young entrepreneur B.Tech Ravi.
While YSR Congress banked on the welfare and development programmes launched by late YSR to woo the voters, the Congress and the TDP made corruption their poll plank. Since the Congress is waging a now or never battle, it unabashedly took umbrage under the age-old adage “ all is fair in love and war” in unleashing a malicious tirade against Jagan. It also used all the tricks under its hat to create hurdles for Jagan like fielding a number of dummies having similar names like Jagan in Kadapa and Vijayalaxmi in Pulivendula.
FLOW OF MONEY, LIQUOR
As a matter of fact as many as 15 ministers have virtually camped in the district to supervise the electioneering in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies. Besides senior party leaders including former Chief Minister K. Rosaiah, Central Ministers like Purandishwari and Panabaka Laxmi, and PRP President Chiranjeevi have been made as star campaigners for the Congress.
For the first time in any by-elections in the state, money and liquor were blatantly misused to entice the electorate. For this purpose, all the three parties adopted novel methods to ensure that the allotted quota of money and liquor reached the voters clandestinely.
The TDP President Nara Chandrababu Naidu was star campaigner for his party nominees in both the constituencies.
With the firm directive from the Election Commission, all the ministers, officials from outside who had stay put in Kadapa during the last three weeks, were forced to pack up their bags and luggage and leave. Even the scores of followers and supporters of various parties who have been lodging in all the hotels and guest houses were made to leave. As a result the unprecedented din and dust raised during the past three weeks in the district has suddenly been replaced by an eerie silence after sunset today (NSS).