In a three-cornered contest, Raju firmly grounded

In a three-cornered contest, Raju firmly grounded

Ashok Gajatahi Raju

There are more than 1,600 Kapu voters in the Dwarapudi village, which was adopted by the former Civil Aviation Minister and sitting Member of Parliament Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju of TDP. They say they stand by their king, come what may.

The village got a 25-acre solar power plant that supplies electricity to the Panchayat, a “Chitti Guruvulu” programme under which children teach their parents how to read and write, as well as pacca roads, potable tap water and LED lights.

A royalty by birth, Raju is known for his straightforwardness and no-nonsense behaviour among his followers. Sometimes, his refusal to help or a recommendation letter irks them, but they like him because he has never cheated them. “There are few in the village that may not vote for him, but development reaches everyone,” Srini Raju, a Kshatriya and a mango farmer, says.

Dwarapudi is just 10 km from Vizianagaram town, from where Raju’s elder daughter Vijayalakshmi is contesting the Assembly seat on a TDP ticket. She and other Assembly candidates belonging to the TDP are facing a tough fight. The only exception seems to be the Bobbili Assembly segment.

The YSRCP is strong in Etcherla, Rajam, Chipurupalli, Gajapathinagaram and Nellimarla. Despite the wave prevailing in favour of YS Jaganmohan Reddy in the district, Raju is strongly saddled in the LS contest.

Raju is up against two young leaders — Bellana Chandrasekhar (YSRCP) and Mukka Srinivasa Rao (Janasena).

Bellana Chandrasekhar, a lawyer and former ZP Chairman of the district, says, “My commitment towards society and sincere efforts to uplift the party made me the MP candidate." Knowing well that he is pitted against the mighty king, he says that he has the public's support and their blessings.

On the other hand, Mukka Srinivasa Rao, a less known name, is not bothered about the famous people who are contesting the election. “The voters want change. The people with big names have done nothing for the constituency,” he says. 

However, former minister and sitting Chipurupally MLA Botsa Satyanarayana of the YSRCP wields considerable clout in at least five Assembly segments and his influence can’t be dismissed. But the TDP has the backing of pensioners who have benefitted from government schemes. If the Janasena can split the votes of Kapus, the result can go either way.