Kiran to foil BJP entry into SKL

Visakhapatnam: A divided Telugu Desam and nomination of a political novice carrying the BJP ticket might make it easy for YSRC candidate Gorle Kiran Kumar to win the polls in Etcherla Assembly constituency in Srikakulam district.

Kiran Kumar defeated TD veteran and politburo member Kimidi Kala Venkata Rao in the 2019 elections, though he lost the polls there in 2014.

The Etcherla assembly segment has been one of the bastions of the Telugu Desam ever since its inception. Kavali Prathibha Bharathi won the seat five times and served as a minister, and later as Speaker of the assembly from 1983 to 2004.

Around 98 per cent of the voters are BCs with the Turpu Kapu community having a majority followed by Velama, Kalinga, Telaga, SCs and other BC communities.

Turpu Kapus have around 50,000 votes in the constituency out of the 2.42 lakh votes. In this background, the NDA fielding BJP candidate N Eswara Rao there came as a surprise to political observers.

Esawara Rao belongs to the Kamma community and obtained the ticket by convincing the BJP high command that the party’s ground support there had improved during the last five years and he would be able to edge out the YSRC in this election.

Local reports said some members of the community migrated to Etcherla in 70 and 80s and purchased huge chunks of land for throw away price, which have now became valuable commercial land.

Around 2,000 families own lands close to the National Highway and they wield high influence in the constituency.

Reports said it was infighting within Telugu Desam that fetched the ticket to BJP’s Eswara Rao. It was like two cats fighting over a cake and a monkey taking it away, joked a local leader.

Sources said TD became weak after Kala Venkata Rao lost the polls there in 2019 to YSRC’s Kiran Kumar. Taking advantage of the situation, Kalisetti Appala Naidu staked his claim for the seat and informed the TD high command that he would be the right choice. Both began to show their strength as the elections approached.

TD chief Chandrababu Naidu felt the infighting would lead to the loss of the segment to YSRC. Around the same time, the BJP mooted the idea of fielding Eswara Rao. Naidu fell for the idea and agreed to field a BJP candidate.

“I am surprised at the guts the NDA has shown in fielding a BJP candidate in a BC dominated constituency,’’ said a senior YSRC leader.

“The YSRC welfare schemes will see me through,’’ Kiran Kumar said, while Eswara Rao said his social service and charity work for the last 15 years would help him win this seat with a good majority.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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