Betting frenzy grips Kuppam over Naidu's win

Tirupati: The Kuppam Assembly constituency spread across Kuppam, Ramakuppam, Gudupalle and Shantipuram mandals is gripped by frenzied betting over the victory margin of former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam (TD) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu. Anxious supporters of both TD and the ruling YSRC have thrown themselves into an intense wagering war.

TD cadres, buoyed by Naidu's phenomenal performance in his home turf over the past three decades, are confidently predicting a one-lakh vote mark of majority this election. They recall how Naidu's majority skyrocketed from just 6,918 votes in his inaugural win in the 1989 elections to a staggering 65,687 votes in the 1999 elections.

With Naidu's elevation as chief minister in 1995, Kuppam's status was transformed overnight into the ‘Chief Minister's constituency’, with the mere mention of ‘Kuppam’ serving as a passport for its residents to access the CM's chambers. Though the margins fluctuated, they remained high at 59,588 votes in 2004, 46,066 in 2009 and 47,121 votes five years later before dipping to around 30,722 amid Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSRC wave in 2019.

However, emboldened YSRC workers are vehemently claiming Naidu was headed for his first-ever rout in the constituency he had lorded over for over three decades. Their assertions follow the party's “Why not Kuppam?” offensive to breach Naidu's stronghold, where it made inroads in local body polls post 2019 elections. A massive 50,000-strong crowd at Jagan's roadshow in Kuppam ahead of polls has further galvanised their hopes.

Naidu, who typically avoids intensive campaigning here, undertook a high-pitched poll blitz encompassing roadshows, public meetings, door-to-door outreach and closed-door party workers interfaces. Political analysts view this renewed aggression as signalling his concerns over retaining his home turf amid the YSRC's clout.

With the two parties locked in an intense, no-holds-barred battle, fevered betting has commenced even before nominations could be filed. Farmers, traders and others are furiously striking wagers at Kuppam's tea stalls, hotels and even wine shops over whether the TD veteran will cruise past the 1,00,000-vote majority or suffer his first-ever drubbing. In their fervour, some audacious punters are even drafting promissory notes for the stakes, albeit cloaking the amounts as ‘hand loans’ to avoid legal entanglement.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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