Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | Water woes and anti-incumbency fuel some hope for BJP in Rajampet

In Rajampet, water scarcity and growing anti-incumbency sentiments are shaping the political landscape, offering a glimmer of hope for the BJP. The BJP, bolstered by its alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Jana Sena coalition, is seizing the moment, capitalizing on the prevailing discontent to make inroads into this arid region.
Last Updated : 08 May 2024, 07:13 IST
Last Updated : 08 May 2024, 07:13 IST

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Andhra Pradesh (Rajampet): The arid plains of Rajampet, a drought-stricken region in Andhra Pradesh, have become a battleground where the ruling YSRCP government's perceived failure to address the severe water crisis is fueling an anti-incumbency wave, setting the stage for a potential political upheaval.

In this parched belt, where acute drinking water shortages and inadequate irrigation facilities have crippled economic growth and job opportunities, a perfect storm is brewing.

The BJP, bolstered by its alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Jana Sena coalition, is seizing the moment, capitalizing on the prevailing discontent to make inroads into this arid region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address an election rally in Kalikiri, Pileru assembly constituency, in support of BJP's Rajampet MP candidate, N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who was the former Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh.

This underscores the saffron party's determination to quench the electorate's thirst for change.

From Rajampet in Annamaya district to Rayachoti in Kadapa, and Tamballapalle, Madanapalle, and Punganur in Chittoor, the lack of water has become the primary concern for the electorate. Despite several projects being initiated, none have materialized, hampering economic activity and depriving the region of much-needed job opportunities.

Midhun Reddy, the incumbent MP and the YSRCP's floor leader in the Lok Sabha, acknowledges the water woes of the region but blames the TDP for the stalled projects. However, he promises to complete the projects if elected for a third term, asserting that about 50 per cent of the work has already been completed.

"About 50 per cent of the work has been completed, the rest will be finished in the next two years," Midhun told PTI while he was on a door-to-door campaign.

The priority area is to implement the drinking water and irrigation projects, he added.

One of the major projects, the Avulapalli reservoir project, envisioned as a panacea for the region's water woes, has been mired in controversy.

Land acquisition issues, legal battles with the National Green Tribunal, and inadequate compensation for displaced families have eroded the goodwill of the YSRC government in at least four out of seven assembly seats in the Rajampet Parliamentary segment.

Land acquisition for the project, spanning a vast 1,522 acres, was underway until May last year when all work came to a grinding halt due to legal hurdles. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed a staggering Rs 100-crore penalty on the state government for alleged violations of environmental norms, casting a shadow over the project's future.

While the Supreme Court provided temporary relief by staying the NGT order pending appeal, it mandated the state to deposit Rs 25 crore with the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), with the final amount subject to the court's judgment.

The uncertainty surrounding the project's fate has left the region's residents in limbo, their hopes for a reprieve from the water crisis hanging by a thread.

The BJP is pinning its hopes on Kiran Kumar Reddy, who resigned from the Congress in 2014 to protest the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. After his own political party failed to win any seats and was dissolved in 2018, Reddy rejoined the Congress briefly before switching to the BJP in April 2023, ahead of the elections.

"The BJP alliance with TDP and Jana Sena will help Kiran Kumar win. There are 100 per cent chances," says a resident of Rajampet, Syed Jalal.

Local BJP leaders are confident that the alliance with TDP and Jana Sena, coupled with Reddy's clean image and administrative skills, will help them secure the Rajampet seat.

They claim to have a vote share of around 10%, while the TDP has 40%, and Jana Sena has less than 5% in the constituency.

There are 17 lakh voters in Rajampet Parliamentary segment. The polling for assembly and Lok Sabha elections is scheduled on May 13 in the state.

Published 08 May 2024, 07:13 IST

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