The Polavaram project has been drawing national attention ever since the Modi government announced it as a national project. The Telugu Desam Party is leaving no stone unturned to showcase it as a model of commitment, development and progress achieved by the State government.
Yet the TDP is facing a formidable challenge from the YSRCP in the Polavaram (ST) Assembly constituency for various reasons. The issues of the R&R package and compensation to the families that were displaced are evidently playing spoilsport. The electors are up in arms against the government over “inordinate delay” in extending the compensation to the project victims.
As many as 134 villages would be submerged due to the project. The housing schemes launched by the State government for the project displaced families in these villages are yet to be completed. In some cases, the works came to a grinding halt after foundation was constructed.
Bickering in TDP camp
The CPI(ML) New Democracy, which has been mobilising the tribal people against the project, has fielded its candidate Dharmula Suresh.
Also, the Telugu Desam is facing internal bickering. The party has been forced to change the sitting MLA Mudiyam Srinivasa Rao and nominate B. Srinivasulu. A group opposing the renomination of the sitting MLA staged a protest in front of the Chief Minister‘s residence during the review meetings. Though the party has conceded to the demand to change the candidate, there is lack of coordination and cooperation.
At an election preparatory meeting conducted in the constituency, the TDP leaders repeatedly say that every worker has to honour the party supremo decision and work for the success of the contesting candidate. Not much bonhomie was seen when Mr. Srinivasulu arrived at the venue.
Voter awareness is high in the constituency. In the 1999 election, the constituency witnessed a keen contest. TDP candidate Vanka Srinivasa Rao won the seat with a wafer-thin majority of 24 votes.
In the last elections, the TDP candidate secured 15,720 votes more than his nearest rival Tellam Balaraj of YSRCP, who was the sitting MLA then. The YSRCP has chosen Mr. Balraj again. The None of the Above (NOTA) was also high as 1.06% voters preferred NOTA.
The constituency witnessed 14 elections, including one by-election since 1955. The Telugu Desam won five times, while the Congress and Congress (I) won seven times.
The CPI secured the seat in 1962. The constituency was declared ST constituency in 1967. Mudiyam Lakshmana Rao, TDP candidate, who won the elections in 1983 and 1985, is a relative of the sitting MLA.