Evangelist Paul enlivens AP poll scene

Ch RS Sarma Visakhapatnam | Updated on March 28, 2019

Life without laughter is unimaginable, insufferable. Poll campaign in Andhra Pradesh for the Assembly and General elections to be held on April 11 has been very acrimonious so far, with the major political parties — the Telugu Desam Party, YSR Congress and Janasena — hurling charges against each other.

But in this grim political drama a tinge of comic element has been brought in by a Christian evangelist — KA Paul, who claims among his followers President’s of countries, celebrities and the rich and famous.

The evangelist is in the poll fray with his Praja Santi Party (PSP) and he is contesting from all 175 Assembly and 25 LS seats. He set up the party in 2009 and has been contesting elections since then, but he has drawn much attention this time round for various reasons.

For starters, PSP has been allotted the helicopter symbol, and controversy is raging over it, as the rotating blades of the helicopter are, according to the YSR Congress, distressingly similar to the rotating blades of a fan, which is its symbol. The party fears, not without reason, that many voters may mistake the symbol of one party with the other.

To make matters worse, Paul has put up candidates in 35 Assembly seats and five LS seats whose names are conspicuously, similar to those of YSR Congress candidates. For instance, from Parchuru Assembly constituency in Prakasam district, Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, the son-in-law of the late NTR, is contesting on a YSR Congress ticket. PSP has put up Venkateswarlu. Though the names do not exactly match, they are pretty close. YSR Congress has complained to the Election Commission to change PSP's symbol.

YSR Congress believes that Paul is a front man of Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, like Pawan Kalyan of Janasena, and he is in the poll fray only to divide the opposition vote.

Paul on his part is unfazed and he is absolutely convinced that the gods and odds are in his favour. “I shall convert Andhra into a America,” he proclaims.

He filed nominations from two constituencies — from Bhimavaram Assembly constituency and Narsapur LS seat in West Godavari district. The first was accepted and the second rejected, as he could not file nomination in time. He is convinced he can defeat Pawan Kalyan, the Janasena president, in Bhimavaram.

Published on March 28, 2019

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