When Y S Jaganmohan Reddy parted ways with the Congress, about 60 percent of the party’s cadre in this district walked out with him.
Also, about 50 per cent of the Congress MLAs from this district are defying the party to support him.
With campaigning for the Kadapa and Pulivendula byelections now in full swing, the Congress leadership here is banking on Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party to bring in the votes of the Balija population, which is in significant numbers in this district.
When the Congress moved for a merger with the Praja Rajyam, it was with a view to cornering the votes of intermediate castes, such as the Kapus and Balijas.
The Kadapa and Pulivendula byelections are in a sense a test of the soundness of this strategy.
For their part, PRP leaders here are working to make the strategy work for the Congress.
The party’s Kadapa president B Hari Prasad convened a meeting of mandal-level leaders of the PRP and asked them to throw their weight behind the Congress candidates in these byelections.
Praja Rajyam’s main vote bank here is the Balija section of the population with considerable influence also among the BC, SC, ST and minority sections.
Hari Prasad has teamed up with minister Kanna Lakshminarayan, both Balijas, to secure the support of their community for D L Ravindra Reddy and Y S Vivekananda Reddy, the Congress party’s candidates for the Kadapa Lok Sabha and Pulivendula Assembly byelections.
For the record, they say they are confident that 90 percent of the Balijas here will vote Congress.
There are some 86,327 Balija votes in the Kadapa LS constituency as a whole, distributed over its seven Assembly segments.
Congress campaign insiders say they expect to bag about two-thirds of that number if the PRP votes come the Congress way.
Additionally, PRP leaders claim they can successfully swing 40 percent of the voters of other communities in the intermediate caste segement of society. That translates to about 50,000 votes.
But in the calculations of the local Congress leaders, the merger strategy may end up working too well for the party.
If PRP Kadapa leaders including Udayasri, Muralikrishna, S Nazeer Ahamedu and backward class leader A Sankaraiah succeed in luring their community voters to the Congress, they may score brownie points with the Congress leadership, which is not entirely to the liking of the Congress minions. Express Buzz