Renuka Chowdhury, Purandareswari face tough test

Hyderabad, April 15: While union minister S. Jaipal Reddy has a strong chance of being re-elected to the Lok Sabha, his colleagues Renuka Chowdhury and D. Purandareswari are facing tough fights. All three are in the fray for the first phase of parliamentary polls in Andhra Pradesh Thursday.

The first phase covers 22 Lok Sabha and 154 assembly constituencies in 10 districts in Telangana and north coastal Andhra.

Chowdhury, minister of state for women development and child welfare, may not get a third consecutive term from Khammam constituency despite the campaigning by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The ‘iron lady’ is locked in a tough fight with Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) N. Nageswara Rao, a millionaire and chairman of Madhucon construction company. He seems to be comfortably placed in this Communist bastion with the support of both the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-M), which along with Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) are constituents of the TDP-led Grand Alliance.

Out of the seven assembly segments in Khammam Lok Sabha constituency, the TDP has left three for the CPI-M and two for the CPI. In the 2004 elections, Chowdhury had support of the Left parties who were then allies of Congress.

Though Chowdhury is confident of a hat-trick, the local people are unhappy with her for not taking care of the constituency. The people call her ‘visiting MP’ for her occasional visits to the area.

TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao’s daughter Purandareswari, union minister of state for human resources development, too has a tough battle on hand in Visakhapatnam. In 2004, she was elected from Bapatla but in the delimitation this constituency was reserved for Scheduled Castes.

Visakhapatnam, from where former chief minister and Congress leader N. Janardhan Reddy was elected in the last elections, is witnessing a multi-cornered contest. The TDP has fielded M.V.V.S. Murthy. The Praja Rajyam and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also have their candidates here.

Jaipal Reddy looks comfortably placed in the newly created Chevella constituency in neighbouring Ranga Reddy district despite facing some opposition from within the Congress ranks for being a non-local. His rivals include TDP’s Jitender Reddy and BJP’s Baddam Bal Reddy. In 2004, Jaipal Reddy was elected from Miryalguda, which was scrapped in delimitation.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary Madhu Yaskhi Goud is likely to retain Nizamabad Lok Sabha seat. He is ahead of TRS candidate B. Ganesh Gupta and PRP’s P. Vinay Kumar, son of former union minister P. Shiv Shankar.

TRS president K. Chandrasekhara Rao is finding it tough in Mahabubnagar against D. Vital Rao of Congress party. Chandrasekhara Rao was elected from Karimnagar in the last elections but shifted from there due to his waning popularity.

However, another TRS leader and actress Vijayshanti is likely to have smooth sailing in Medak. Nicknamed ‘Lady Amitabh’ for her roles in several Telugu films, she is locked in a straight fight with the Congress party’s Narendernath, considered a political novice.

PRP general secretary and superstar Chiranjeevi’s brother-in-law Allu Aravind is facing a tough battle in Anakapalli. The famous producer has Sabbam Hari of Congress and Surya Prakash Rao of the TDP as his rivals.

PRP vice-president T. Devender Goud seems to be trailing in newly created Malkajgiri. The Congress appears ahead in the multi-cornered contest, also involving the TDP and BJP.

TDP leader K. Yerran Naidu is set to retain Srikakulam seat despite the presence of PRP and BJP candidates.

Similarly, CPI national secretary S. Sudhakar Reddy may retain Nalgonda. State BJP president Bandaru Dattatreya is trying hard to wrest Secunderabad from sitting Congress MP Anjan Kumar Yadav.