Some 2.10 lakh voters of Ongole, the coastal constituency, can’t close their doors in the day since the campaign began. If they close bang would come a knock and that would be one of the candidates.
All players — the Congress, the YSRC, the TDP, Jan Satta with CPM, — have resorted to house-to-house contact, which the Lok Satta calls mouth-to-mouth. This is cheaper and more effective. The TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu refers to the US Democratic campaign of Barack Obama, and points out how personal contact and using new media catapulted the improbable task of putting an African American in the White House.
As the mercury soars to an unbearable 48 degree C, courtesy the angry May sun, people in Ongole town have one great relief till the campaign lasts — steady power supply. “Before the election circus began,” says a native, Ramprasad Yadav, “it was any number of hours.” But now the government behaves like a gentleman. However, water supply is still a problem.
The Congress-turned-YSRC candidate Balineni Srinivas Reddy is the superman who achieved a hat-trick of success in this constituency scoring a 22,986 vote-margin in 2009. His crossing over to the YSRC has hit the Hand badly. Congress candidate M Parvath-amma is trying to stump him. The TDP candidate Damacharla Janardhan Rao goes with the charge-sheet against the Congress and the YSRC, which he calls, birds of the same feather.
“The Congress is mother of all corruption. The YSRC has hands in Vanpic land scandal, dump these fellows and go for the old reliable, the TDP,” is the TDP war song.
Ongole town faces three big problems — the Puthuraju Kalva (drainage river) that overflows after a heavy shower, lack of proper drainage, loss of land by farmers (land grabbers include those in power).
The annual budget of Ongole municipality comes to `30 crore and the municipality for all these years has done nothing to alleviate the long-standing problems of people.
“For a change you vote for us (LSP),” pleads the young Lok Satta candidate Ramesh Reddy. Ramesh has the support of the CPI(M) and the two have some pockets of influence in the rural side.
“It’s sad these people (Congress, YSRC) have done nothing to make this municipality area a livable place,” remarks Ramesh. He painstakingly explains how people are being taken for a ride by the Congress and its ‘illegitimate offspring” the YSRC. But, going by the indications, YSRC’s Balineni has an edge over the Congress and may prove four-time lucky.
But, the Lok Satta, seems set to improve its tally and give some nightmarish vision to both Congress and YSRC grabbing a chunk of Reddy votes. Other prominent castes are the Kapus and Yadavs. The BJP too has a sizeable presence in this constituency. Voters are presented a long list of 23 candidates, 19 of them just to cut into the mainstream parties votes.
About the Author (Author Profile)
PK Surendran is senior editor at Postnoon.