A tight fight in offing for Guntur LS seat

G Naga Sridhar Guntur | Updated on March 26, 2019

With a voter strength of about 16 lakh, Guntur constituency houses the new capital region. The perception of farmers who gave their lands for landpooling of about 33,000 acres will shape the voting pattern

TDP hopes to cash in on capital city dazzle; YSR Congress harping on ‘false promises’

Can the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) captalise on its efforts in building the greenfield capital city Amaravati to retain the Guntur parliamentary seat?

This is the question in the minds of many voters in this tobacco-growing, affluent constituency in Andhra Pradesh.

Farmers’ perception

With a voter strength of about 16 lakh, Guntur constituency houses the new capital region, besides being the administrative hub of the State government. The perception of farmers who gave their lands for landpooling of about 33,000 acres will shape the voting pattern.

“Our life has changed for better and we inched up on the economic ladder due to the appreciation of land value,” said Narendra Karumanchi, who did his B Tech in Nalgonda and is a native of Velagapudi village.

His father Appayya is popular in the region because he now rides a horse, which was his childhood dream. “We are rich now and can afford to fulfill these dreams,” he said.

Land prices have spiralled in Tulluru, Velagapudi, Mandadam, Nerukonda and Nelapadu, among others. The value has shot up from ₹30-70 lakh to ₹3-4 crore an acre.

On the other side are villagers in Nidamarru, Penumaka, Undavalli and Errabalam, who feel ‘betrayed’ by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu in his promise of a new capital.

“The 91 (4) agreement between farmers and the government has been breached. The government did not hand back plots to all. No physical infrastructure has been developed for plots, contrary to promises,” said KC Reddy, a farmer from Penumaka village.

A tiles businessman, Raghava Reddy from Kunchanapalem village, which is outside the purview of capital region, sees a “trust deficit” in the ruling party. “Neither jobs nor contracts have been given to locals. Loan waiver to farmers is not fully done either,” he said.

According to Punna Reddy. a builder from the region who is operating from Bengaluru, the cost of construction of new capital is “unbelievably high.”

“As against a normal expenditure of ₹3,500 per sq ft, the government is spending ₹11,500,” he claimed.

No industries

The sitting MP Jayadev Galla, an industrialist himself, had promised in 2014 that Guntur would be “flooded with industries.” It did not happen, said V Prasad, a Guntur-based chartered accountant.

Going beyond capital, caste dynamics have always been a critical factor. There are almost equal numbers in the prominent castes of Reddys, Kapus and Kammas. So, the loyalties and last-minute tilts will make a big difference to the final outcome.

Guntur has been an education hub and the youngsters will have to be convinced by all candidates over creation of job opportunities going forward to win them over.

While ruling TDP is hoping that the showcasing of the capital city, the functioning of the Secretariat, Assembly, High Court and all other key offices from Amaravati will see it through, the Opposition YSR Congress party is betting big on the “slow pace of capital works” and “false promises” on the special status.

Third party

Jana Sena Party of actor Pawan Kalyan is fighting the electoral battle on his own film appeal, caste dynamics and special status.

It will be a triangular contest on April 11 – Galla Jayadev from the TDP, Modugula Venugopal Reddy from YSR CP and B Srinivas Yadav from Jana Sena will try their luck this time.

Guntur has seven assembly segments – Mangalagiri, Tadikonda, Guntur West, Guntur East, Prattipadu, Tenali and Ponnuru.

Published on March 26, 2019

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