For Swamy, a fisherman from Raparthi village in Pithapuram assembly constituency in Andhra Pradesh, the upcoming elections are special because he will be exercising his vote for the first time. And he is happy that Jana Sena President Pawan Kalyan has chosen Pithapuram to contest this time.

“Our small town already blips prominently on the radar of celebrities now, thanks to his presence here. I think we should give Pawan Kalyan a chance to prove himself in politics and develop our town,’‘ Swamy told businessline.

Many voters in the constituency share a similar view and are also sympathetic towards Kalyan, who never tasted an electoral victory after the formation of his party a decade ago.

A View of Sri Kukkuteshwara Temple, which is a popular landmark in Pithapuram

A View of Sri Kukkuteshwara Temple, which is a popular landmark in Pithapuram | Photo Credit: Naga Sridhar

“We have voted for many in elections so far. But none have delivered anything for Pithapuram which has alway been under the shadow of Kakinada. Let it be him this time,’‘ J Ganapathi, a farmer hailing from Pithapuram said.

The JS Chief must have done his homework for the constituency. His promises for the locals include development of the Kukkuteswara temple, an ancient shrine of Lord Shiva, to be a ‘Mini Kasi’ along with the Puruhutika temple, one of the 18 Shakti Pithas of the country. The town of about 3 lakh voters would be developed as a major spiritual centre in the country with an investment of ₹300 crore, according to Pawan Kalyan.

He has made himself a household name in the town by buying a house and declaring that he would actually reside there to be close to the people and work for development. This is seen as an advantage and answers detractors who say he is an outsider to the town.

Not a cakewalk

It is also likely that it will be a tough fight for him as his opponent, Vanga Geetha of YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), is a senior local politician and commands respect from one and all for her ‘saintly and non-controversial’ personality. She believes the “brand image of Jagan as a champion of the poor’‘ with a slew of welfare schemes will ensure her safe sailing to victory in the elections. 

She is leaving no stone unturned to woo the voters, has already completed a door-to-door campaign in over 70 per cent of the constituency and is ahead of the JS chief in the campaign. 

Hailing from the dominant Kapu community (same as that of Pawan Kalyan), Geetha could be a spoke in the wheel for the TDP-JS-BJP Front’s calculation of attracting Kapu votes. YSRCP also bagged the support of Mudragada Padmanabham, a senior Kapu community leader in the state.

In the 2019 elections, YSRCP Candidate Dorababu Pendem had won with a majority of 14,992 votes against TDP candidate SVSN Varma. It now remains to be seen if the reel hero will become a real hero by winning the mandate in the polls slated for May 13, 2024.