Andhra Assembly polls: Tough battle for Pawan Kalyan in Pithapuram


by IANS | Wed, May 08, 2024, 01:06 PM

Amaravati, May 8 (IANS) In search of his maiden electoral victory, Jana Sena Party leader and actor Pawan Kalyan faces a tough fight against seasoned politician Vanga Geetha of the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in Pithapuram Assembly constituency in Andhra Pradesh.

The constituency in Kakinada district is expected to see a fierce battle for supremacy as YSRCP is going all out to stop Pawan Kalyan from entering the Assembly.

The actor-politician, whose party has an electoral alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is confident of finally making it to the Assembly.

The YSRCP has fielded Vanga Geetha, the sitting MP from the Kakinada Lok Sabha constituency. Pithapuram is one of the Assembly segments under the Kakinada constituency.

Power star, as Pawan Kalyan is popularly known, has been campaigning in Pithapuram for more than one-and-a-half months, conducting road shows. His nephew and actor Varun Tej also joined the high-octane campaign late last month by holding a road show.

In an apparent move to counter his political rivals, who brand him an outsider for the constituency, Pawan Kalyan has bought a home in the town and announced that he would actually reside in the town to be close to the people and work for their development.

The Jana Sena leader has also promised to promote temple tourism in the constituency at a cost of Rs 300 crore with the development of the ancient Kukkuteswara temple as ‘Mini Kashi’ along with the Puruhutika temple, one of the 18 Shakti Pithas of the country. He has also assured the fishermen community that he would work to solve their problems.

The YSR Congress Party leaders are also running an aggressive door-to-door campaign in the constituency, which has about 3 lakh voters.

Vanga Geetha, a seasoned leader of the region, is banking on the popularity of Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and the welfare schemes implemented by the YSRCP government during the last five years. The ruling party is seeking a fresh mandate to continue the schemes.

Interestingly, Vanga, Geetha was elected MLA from Pithapuram in 2009 on the ticket of PRP, which was launched by Pawan Kalyan’s elder brother and superstar K. Chiranjeevi.

A native of the same district, Vanga Geetha began his political journey in the early 1990s with the TDP. She served as chairperson of East Godavari district Zilla Parishad. She served as a Rajya Sabha member from 2000 to 2006.

When PRP merged with Congress, she became a member of Congress. She joined the YSR Congress Party just before the 2019 elections and was elected to Lok Sabha on the party ticket from Kakinada.

Pawan Kalyan has apparently chosen Pithapuram as the constituency has a majority of voters from Kapu, a community to which he belongs. However, Vanga Geetha is also a Kapu.

Jana Sena leaders, however, say their party chief is not banking on Kapu votes alone as he never confined his politics to one caste.

In a boost to Pawan Kalyan’s campaign, his elder brother Chiranjeevi has appealed to Pithapuram voters to elect Jana Sena leader. In a video message, Chiranjeevi said that Pawan Kayan entered films under compulsion but willingly entered into politics.

“My younger brother thinks more about people than about himself. Everybody says he will do something for people after coming to power but Pawan Kalyan spent his own money to wipe out the tears of tenant farmers, donated generously to jawans guarding our borders and helped fishermen. When we see all this, we feel that people need a leader like him,” said Chiranjeevi.

For Jagan Mohan Reddy, the Pithapuram election is a prestige issue. The ruling party is deploying all available resources to defeat Pawan Kalyan, a bitter critic of the YSRCP chief.

Pithapuram constituency has an interesting history. Barring three elections, it never elected a sitting MLA. Out of 16 elections held so far since its inception in 1952, Pithapuram elected Congress candidates five times, TDP thrice, Praja Party twice, CPI, BJP, Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) and YSRCP one each. It also elected two Independents.

In 2019, the YSR Congress Party bagged the Pithapuram seat. Dorababu Pendem had defeated TDP’s SVSN Varma by a margin of 14,992 votes. While the YSRCP candidate polled 83,459 votes, Varma had secured 68,467 votes. Jana Sena Party’s M. Seshu Kumari finished third with 28,011 votes.

Pithapuram is a high-stakes battle for Pawan Kalyan, who had a disastrous electoral debut in 2019, losing both the Assembly seats he contested.

Pawan had contested from Gajuwaka and Bhimavaram from Visakhapatnam and West Godavari districts respectively but lost in both places to the YSR Congress Party candidates.

In Gajuwaka, Pawan Kalyan lost to T. Nagi Reddy of YSRCP by a margin of 16,753 votes. While Nagi Reddy polled 75,292 votes, the Jana Sena Party leader had secured 58,539 votes. Telugu Desam Party’s Palla Srinivas Rao had finished a close third with 56,642 votes.

Gajuwaka is one of the Assembly segments in Visakhapatnam district.

Pawan Kalyan’s margin of defeat in Bhimavaram was comparatively narrow (8,357). In this segment in West Godavari district and a part of the Narsapuram Lok Sabha constituency, he suffered defeat at the hands of Grandhi Srinivas of the YSR Congress Party. This was also a three-cornered contest like in Gajuwaka.

Srinivas polled 70,642 votes while Pawan Kalyan secured 62,285 votes. TDP’s Ramanjaneyulu Pulaparthi had garnered 54,036 votes.

In 2019, Pawan Kalyan had an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Left parties. However, the Jana Sena Party could win just one seat in the 175-member Assembly and drew a blank in Lok Sabha polls.

This time, he has an alliance with the TDP and BJP. Under the seat-sharing agreement, the Jana Sena Party is contesting 21 Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats.

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