Caste war to the fore in Vijayawada LS seat

Caste war to the fore in Vijayawada LS seat

Considered as the political capital of Andhra Pradesh, the Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency consisting of Vijayawada West, Vijayawada Central, Vijayawada East, Nandigama, Mylavaram, Tiruvuru and Jaggayyapet Assembly segments is witnessing a tough battle.

The Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSRCP have fielded candidates belonging to the ‘Kamma’ caste, a dominant caste in the coastal Andhra region with industrial and political clout, but few in numbers compared to the ‘Kapus’ who are economically weak. Except in the Vijayawada West, the main fight is between the Kamma candidates.

While the TDP has fielded Kesineni Srinivas alias Nani of Kesineni Travels, a private transport company famous in Southern India, Congress has given its seat to Devineni Avinash, son of former Congress minister Devineni Nehru and the YSRCP has fielded a businessman Koneru Prasad.

YSRC candidate Koneru Rajendra Prasad is a known face in the constituency. He is the man behind the TB sanatorium of Vijayawada, founder chairman & chief mentor of the Trimex Group and runs the Koneru Rajendra Prasad Charitable Trust. Koneru had a head start compared to TDP’s Kesineni as the announcement of Nani’s candidature took time. It is said that the TDP party chief was toying with the idea of fielding another businessman Potluri Vara Prasad, a candidate supported by actor Pawan Kalyan.

“I took a vow that I will not return to Vijayawada without the B-form. Finally, I was summoned by Naidu and I am happy that he had confidence in me. Voters have been telling me that only Naidu could re-construct Seemandhra after bifurcation and they have decided to vote for TDP,” Nani said.

The third contender Devineni Avinash, belongs to the Devineni clan, a much-feared group that has lost its sons in the fight with the Kapu leaders, particularly the Vangaveeti family. Film maker Ramgopal Verma’s blockbuster ‘Shiva’ was made on the true story of Devineni Murali, the slain brother of Devineni Nehru. The party cadre is happy that the local boy was given the seat.

After a long time, both the communist parties have jumped into the fray, the CPM which opposed the division of the state and the CPI that stood by division. The Communists have not won the Vijayawada seat since 1952. However, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya won the seat as an independent with the active support of Communists. CPM Krishna District Secretary V Umamaheswara Rao and CPI Rythu Sangham Krishna District Secretary S Nageswara Rao have filed the nominations from the constituency.

“The parties are worried about the split in the forward caste votes; cause all the three main candidates are ‘Kamma’ by caste. So, the TDP has tactically fielded Kapus in a few Assembly segments to split the Congress vote bank. The Congress is already facing the wrath of Seemandhra for dividing the state, so, the main fight will be between the TDP and YSRC,” said. The TDP has fielded Kammas against Kapus only in Gannavaram and Jaggayyapet Assembly segments.

However, YSRCP has an edge over its rivals as the major vote banks such as the Dalits, converted Christians, the railway workers, labour living on the edges of hillocks around Vijayawada, and are strongly behind YS Jagan. The additional benefit that Koneru Prasad could get is by splitting the Kamma votes, obstructing the chances of his immediate rival Kesineni Nani.

“The dream of TDP to form a government will never become a reality as the majority of the middle class and the upper middle class that support Naidu, never comes out to vote. It is the worker class that will brave the hot summer sun and will vote for us,” said YSRCP candidate Koneru.

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