Naidu hasn't visited Kuppam this election season

Naidu hasn't visited Kuppam this election season

K Chandramouli

This summer, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu has been literally sweating it out, touring every nook and corner of the state canvassing for his Telugu Desam Party.

But, Naidu has not even bothered to visit the Kuppam Assembly constituency from where he is seeking re-election for the seventh consecutive term. In fact, Naidu did not even come to Kuppam to file his nomination and, some local leaders did it for him.

Naidu is supremely confident that voters of Kuppam will not let him down. He has won all the six elections in the past by bagging over 60% of the total votes polled, since 1989.

Naidu's confidence against his YSRCP rival K Chandramouli, a former IAS officer, stems from the fact that he has successfully implemented scores of developmental works and welfare schemes in this arid area.

"Thirty years ago when Naidu was elected as Kuppam MLA, the area was extremely backward in every respect. Now, we have good roads, water facility, 24x7 power supply to agricultural pump sets and schools in all villages. We ourselves are funding his campaign as we want to see him as chief minister again," says Lakshminarayana of Solishettypalli in Santipuram mandal. Raniyamma of Somapuram adds that there is no need for "Anna" to visit.

Naidu government's Pasapu-Kumkuma scheme has been a big hit among women, who outnumber men in Kuppam. Launched this February, Pasupu-Kumkuma aims to provide financial help to women registered with self-help groups. Each beneficiary is provided Rs 10,000 cash and a smartphone.

The YSRCP cadre agrees that Kuppam has seen all-round development under Naidu. They are seeking votes by highlighting irregularities and corruption in implementation of schemes, manipulation of land records to favour TDP supporters and harassment of the common man by the local TDP leaders, says Nanda Kumar of YSRCP, a prominent leader of the Balija community.

The prospects of YSRCP, which lacks a formidable leader in Naidu's home district of Chittoor, winning the polls appear bleak. The morale of the YSRCP cadre has taken a beating as their candidate Chandramouli has been hospitalised due to serious illness and, has stayed away from the campaign.

Chandramouli, who belongs to the dominant Vannikula Kshatriya community, had lost the 2014 elections to Naidu (a Khamma by caste) by over 47,000 votes.