Andhra Assembly polls: Will NTR's son Balayya hold on to TDP fortress Hindupur?


by IANS | Fri, May 10, 2024, 12:11 PM

Amaravati, May 10 (IANS) Two of Tollywood’s leading actors are in the fray for the May 13 Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh.

While Pawan Kalyan, who heads the Jana Sena Party, is trying once again for his maiden electoral victory, Nandamuri Balakrishna is aiming to score a hat-trick.

Pawan Kalyan, who lost both the Assembly seats he contested in 2019, is testing his fortunes this time from Pithapuram in Kakinada district in coastal Andhra.

Balakrishna, son of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and former chief minister N. T. Rama Rao (NTR), is seeking re-election from Hindupur in Sri Sathya Sai district in Rayalaseema region.

Glamour has been a part of every election in Andhra Pradesh since 1983 when legendary actor NTR took a plunge into politics, altering the political scene of the region.

Balayya, as Balakrishna is popularly known, faces a tough battle this time from Hindupur, which was once represented by his father.

Like in 2014 and 2019, he is locked in a direct fight with the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) candidate. This time the ruling party has fielded a woman candidate -- Tippegowda Narayana Deepika.

He made his cinematic debut at the age of 14 with the 1974 Telugu film ‘Tatamma Kala’. The 63-year-old has acted in more than 100 movies.

Balayya, who is the brother-in-law of TDP president and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, made his electoral debut on a winning note from Hindupur in 2014. He defeated his nearest rival B. Naveen Nischal of YSRCP by 16,196 votes.

In 2019, despite the YSRCP wave across the state, Balayya retained the seat, defeating Shaik Mohammed Iqbal, a retired police officer, by 18,028 votes.

Iqbal, who was later made a member of the Legislative Council by YSRCP, recently joined TDP.

This time Congress party has fielded Mohammad Hussain Inayatullah. However, the contest is likely to be between Balayya and Deepika.

Deepika is from the backward class and the wife of YSRCP leader Venugopal. YSRCP’s Rayalaseema coordinator and state minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy is guiding her in the campaign.

As BC and Muslim voters are considered a deciding factor in more than 2.10 lakh voters, the YSRCP is trying to garner the support of both sections.

Since TDP has an alliance with the Jana Sena Party and Bharatiya Janata Party, the TDP camp is confident that Balayya will retain the seat with a comfortable margin.

Balakrishna, a Kamma, is also banking on the support from BCs and Muslims. His wife and daughters are also campaigning for him.

Hindupur is one of the key Assembly seats being targeted by YSRCP. Deepika hopes that the welfare schemes of the YSRCP government will give the party its first victory in Hindupur, which has remained a fortress of TDP since 1983. TDP never lost an election from here ever since P. Ranganayukulu was elected from here in 1983.

NTR had a special bond with Hindupur. He won the seat thrice, became chief minister twice and served as leader of the opposition once.

In 1985, he contested three seats (one each in coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana) and was elected from all three. He vacated two others and represented Hindupur.

In 1989, NTR contested again from Hindupur and retained the seat. He won for a third consecutive term from Hindupur in 1994, when he led TDP back to power with a landslide victory.

NTR’s death in 1996, a few months after his son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu led the revolt to become the chief minister, resulted in the by-election and his eldest son Nandamuri Harikrishna was elected as TDP candidate. Though NTR’s family members did not contest the 1999, 2004 and 2009 elections, the party retained the seat.

NTR and his wife Basvatarakam had seven sons and four daughters. However, none of them could become his political successor and it was NTR’s son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu who took up the mantle and successfully owned the political legacy of the TDP founder.

NTR had named his fourth son Balakrishna as his political heir but he had confined himself to campaigning for the party. Like most of his siblings, Balakrishna had backed Naidu in the coup against NTR in 1995 citing the growing interference of NTR’s second wife Lakshmi Parvathi in party affairs and administration.

Ever since the TDP's formation, Balakrishna always campaigned for it in every election but never entered the electoral battle. He finally took a plunge into electoral politics in 2014 from Hindupur.

Balakrishna is also the father-in-law of Chandrababu Naidu’s only son Nara Lokesh.

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