The highly controversial Polavaram project did not deter voters from turning out in large numbers. Some 83 per cent voting shows that the CPI-ML’s efforts to dissuade voters from polling had very limited success. Only Geddapalli, Kunkala gram panchayats had responded to the CPI ML call. The protest saw over 1,500 voters boycotting the bypolls. Reports say this ST constituency saw heavy distribution of freebies which has become a tradition ever since the mega project came into being.
All the bigwigs from the TDP, Congress and YSRC had toured through Polavaram with star-studded road shows. The general expectations over the fate of the bypolls make for an interesting case. Kiran Kumar along with Botsa Stayanarayana and Chiranjeevi had toured Polavaram, while Chandrababu Naidu, actress Roja and YS Vijayamma had campaigned here.
All parties had taken it upon themselves to accuse their counterparts about Polavaram’s incomplete status. But many expect YS Vijayamma to turn up the dark horse because of her emotional appeal. “Had YSR been alive, the Polavaram project would have been completed,” is how tried to milk the voter’s sympathy.
However, the point that stuck out like a sore thumb was that the project and its status (likely displacement of 1 lakh tribals) has lost its magic. Major parties have learnt to balance this controversy with material gifts distributed among tribals, the “jewellery package” that saw over 50,000 ornaments made to be delivered to the poor people of Polavaram and West and East Godavari districts being an example.
The parties managed to steer clear of the project but instead victimised Jagan and traded potshots at each other during their campaigns. None of the environmental and economic concerns of the irrigation project seems to be in focus today.
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