L-R: Supporters of Telugu Desam Party, Jana Sena and YSR Congress
The TDP and YSCRP are on tenterhooks, wondering whose votes the Jana Sena candidate—former MP S Pedda Yerikal Reddy—will eat into in Nandyal
Andhra Pradesh’s Nandyal Lok Sabha constituency has the distinction of being the only constituency whose Members of Parliament would occupy the topmost posts in the country.
While Neelam Sanjiva Reddy had been elected MP on a Janata Party ticket from the constituency located in Kurnool district in 1977 and went on to become President of India, then Prime Minister Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao was elected from this seat with a massive majority in 1991.
Narasimha Rao, hailing from Karimnagar district of the present day Telangana state, became Prime Minister in June 1991 and since he had not contested the general elections that year, he had to enter Parliament to remain in the post.
Gangula Prathapa Reddy of the Congress, who was elected from Nandyal, vacated the seat to enable Narasimha Rao to contest the by-election. While the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) opted out to ensure the unanimous election of the “son of the soil”, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fielded Bangaru Laxman.
Narasimha Rao defeated Laxman by a record majority of 5,80,297 votes, which made it to the Guinness Book of World Records. The veteran Congress leader was reelected from Nandyal in 1996, but this time with a reduced majority of 98,530 votes over his nearest rival Bhuma Nagi Reddy of the TDP. Narasimha Rao had contested from two Lok Sabha seats, and quit Nandyal to retain the Berhampur seat in Odisha.
In the ensuing by-election held in 1996, Bhuma wrested Nandyal for the TDP and retained it in 1998 and 1999. Though the Congress wrested back the seat in 2004 and retained it in 2009, the Grand Old Party is no longer a force to reckon with here.
S Pedda Yerikal Reddy, who won the seat twice for the Congress, contested the 2014 elections as the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) candidate and defeated his nearest rival NM Farooq of the TDP by over one lakh votes. The Congress secured a mere 16,378 or 1.36% of the total votes, as it was hit hard by the decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh and create Telangana.
After being elected on the YSRCP ticket, SPY Reddy switched loyalty to the TDP. However, with the TDP denying him a ticket this time, he has entered the fray as the candidate of the Jana Sena party of actor Pawan Kalyan.
Among the key contestants, he is the only seasoned politician as the candidates of both YSRCP and TDP are first-timers in electoral politics.
The ruling TDP has fielded Mandra Sivananda Reddy, a former Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. He took voluntary retirement to plunge into politics. Though he had joined YSRCP, he crossed over to the TDP after the 2014 polls.
TDP claims that the entry of former MLA Byreddy Rajasekhara Reddy, a powerful leader in the region, has brightened its prospects.
YSRCP has fielded Pocha Brahamananda Reddy, an industrialist who had joined the party a few days ago. Chairman of a seeds company, Bharati Seeds, he is also making his debut in electoral politics.
As businessman-turned-politician SPY Reddy remains popular among the voters, especially the farmers, TDP and YSRCP are keeping their fingers as to whose votes he would cut into.
The Congress has fielded J Lakshminarasimha Yadav, but he is not expected to dramatically change the fortunes of his party in its former bastion.
People feel that not much has changed for Nandyal although a Prime Minister once represented the constituency. Besides improvement in basic amenities, people are also seeking creation of job opportunities.
Spread over seven Assembly segments, Nandyal constituency has 16 lakh voters. In 2014 elections, YSRCP bagged six out of seven Assembly seats. However, three of the MLAs later defected to TDP. Two more outgoing MLAs of YSRCP also quit the party to cross over to TDP.
Inputs by Team Lede