Pallam Raju on a sticky wicket in Kakinada

Pallam Raju on a sticky wicket in Kakinada

Union Minister M M Pallam Raju of the Congress, who has represented the coastal Kakinada constituency in 2004 and again in 2009, is facing an uphill task in uniting Congress cadres and fighting elections at the same time. 

Pallam Raju faces a very tough fight from Thota Narasimham (TDP) and Chalamasetti Sunil (YSRC), an NRI. 

In the last elections, Pallam Raju defeated his nearest rival Sunil, who was with the PRP of Chiranjeevi at that time, by a margin of  34,044 votes. Sunil has now joined the YSRC and is riding a sympathy wave here. 

The main fight here seems to be between the YSRC and the TDP.

The voters in the Kakinada Lok Sabha segment – consisting of Kakinada Rural, Kakinada City, Tuni, Pithapuram, Peddapuram, Prathipadu and Jaggampet – have sent Congress MPs to the Lok Sabha over ten times, TDP four times, BJP once and CPI once. 

Pallam Raju, whose credibility is at stake, is bracing himself for the fight of his life time. “I believe that the work I have done in each of the Assembly segments will help me overcome these minor problems,” he says.

He was instrumental in the establishment of an IIIT, a central teacher training centre and a Central school in his constituency. “People of this constituency are not holding me or my party responsible for the division of the state. They are looking forward tor development and believe that only the Congress will deliver the goods,” Pallam Raju claims.

TDP candidate Thota Narasimham says that Kakinada is sympathetic to the BJP and this time the Naidu-Modi combination will help TDP fortunes in the state. Thota, who was a minister in Kirankumar Reddy’s cabinet, quit the Congress and joined the TDP after the AP Bifurcation Bill was passed in both houses of Parliament. 

He represented Jaggampet Assembly seat twice, in 2004 and 2009. Thota Narsimham says he was deeply hurt by the manner in which the state was bifurcated. 

Also in the fray is the Unity Centre of Communist Revolutionaries of India (Marxist-Leninist) candidate S  N Murthy.

A crucial factor that could make or break a candidate in East Godavari is the vote of the dominant Kapu caste, which makes up 20 per cent of the state’s population. 

The Kapu caste was once allied with the Congress because its opponent caste, the Kamma, supported TDP. But the equations seem to have changed with the YSRC apparently having succeeded in weaning away the Kapus from the Congress. 

Realising this, the Congress has again started giving prominence to Kapu leaders in the coastal Andhra region such as Botsa Satyanarayana and Chiranjeevi, hoping that that the Kapus will back the Congress in case the Reddys vote for Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSRC. 

YSRC sources say that the party has allocated 10 seats to the community in East and West Godavari districts. I

t has fielded Varupula Subba Rao in Prathipadu, Jytohula Nehru in Jaggampet, Pendem Dorababu in Pithapuram, Dadisetty Raja in Tuni, Thota Subba Rao Naidu in Peddapuram, and given the Kakinada LS ticket to Chalamalasetty Sunil, a Kapu. 

The TDP has also allocated three seats to the Kapus in the district.

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