Minister for IT, Nara Lokesh, who is seen as the chief minister-in-waiting for Andhra Pradesh, had finally settled for a safe seat – Mangalagiri. After several considerations on his candidature, he had laid his hand on Mangalagiri Assembly constituency in Guntur district, which is now represented by YSR Congress party’s strong man, Alla Ramakrishna Reddy.
Lokesh is said to have considered Bheemili, Visakhapatnam North, Penamaluru and Kuppam Assembly constituencies before settling down in Mangalagiri. It was widely said that he would be contesting from Visakhapatnam North and the party had made alternative arrangements accordingly. The TDP social media claimed that choosing Visakhapatnam North by Lokesh exhibited the TDP’s commitment to the development of the backward North Andhra region. The TDP leaders have welcomed Lokesh to Uttarandhra.
But, things took a swift change with Lokesh laying his hand on Mangalagiri. The reasons for the TDP leadership, particularly Chandrababu Naidu, choosing this constituency are important. In 2014, the TDP had lost this seat with the lowest majority of 12 votes. Now, since 2015, with Chandrababu Naidu residing in this segment at Undavalli and both Chandrababu Naidu and Lokesh having their votes registered here, the TDP believes that it works in Lokesh favour. The 12 votes margin is not a difficult task for the TDP to ensure Lokesh victory.
Another reason that the TDP feels comfortable is that the segment is part of the capital region – Amaravati. People from this segment are eye witness to whatever is done in the name of Amavarati, right from the land pooling to the interim buildings construction and infrastructure creation. The party feels that Mangalagiri would be a safe segment for Lokesh to win his first direct election.
But there are disadvantages to the TDP. Except in 1983 and 1985, the constituency was never with the TDP. It has been a strong hold for the Congress, but for the days of TDP’s strong man, Dr M S S Koteswara Rao. From the Congress citadel the segment moved into the hands of YSR Congress and the incumbent – Alla Ramakrishna Reddy – is a close associate of Jaganmohan Reddy. Called as RK, the sitting MLA was the first in the Opposition party to start a mobile canteen for the poor offering meals at just Rs 5. This was replicated by the ruling TDP by opening Anna Canteens across the State.
Another adverse reality for the TDP here is that Tadepalli mandal is the strong base for YSR Congress with Reddy community having its command over several villages. In fact, the two strong villages, Undavalli and Penumaka, that have been opposed to Chandrababu Naidu’s grand plans of world class capital Amaravati, are part of this segment. The farmers in these villages have not given their lands to the government in land pooling for the capital. The government could not take the lands from these villages to complete the capital dreams. Chandrababu Naidu could not form the prestigious seed access road from these villages and it remains an unfinished road.
It is to be seen how the TDP would convert these adverse situations into favourable to the victory of Lokesh in the election.