Giant killer Tippala Nagireddy, who defeated actor-turned-politician and Jana Sena president Pawan Kalyan in Gajuwaka Assembly segment in recently-concluded elections, began his career as Village Revenue Officer of Peda Gantyada before venturing into politics.
Always considered a rebel for not compromising with issues, Nagireddy made his political debut as an independent corporator in Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation in 2007. He later contested as an independent candidate from Gajuwaka Assembly seat in 2009 but lost to erstwhile Praja Rajyam Party candidate. He again contested from the seat as YSRC candidate in 2014 but lost to TDP’s Palla Simhachalam. However, he did not let two consecutive defeats dampen his spirit and finally emerged victorious by defeating formidable opponent Pawan Kalyan.
In an interview with G Janardhana Rao, a jubilant Nagireddy attributes his victory to the ‘Jagan wave’ across the State but says he is a ‘pucca local’ who is well versed in the issues being faced by the people of Gajuwaka. He promises to work for the development of the constituency under the leadership of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.
Excerpts from the interview:
Were you initially ready to contest against Pawan Kalyan?
I was more than willing to take on the Jana Sena supremo. When Jagan asked me whether I was ready to contest against Pawan, I told him that I am ready irrespective of my opponent and promised him victory if given the ticket from Gajuwaka.
What was main reason behind your confidence?
Even before the election, I was confident of victory. This is because I have been closely associated with the people of the constituency. I am a ‘pucca local’ to whom people reach out with their problems every day. I try to solve them and if I can’t, I don’t hesitate to reach out to leaders in the rival camp to get them solved. This is the reason, people have confidence on me and believe that I will never turn them down. Their confidence on me is my strength.
Do you think sympathy factor worked in your favour?
Though people were sympathetic as I had lost two previous elections in the constituency, Jagan’s personal charisma and party’s wave that hit the State helped me win the election. I give 90 per cent of the credit to Jagan tsunami and the remaining 10 per cent to the sympathy factor.
Do you believe cinematic glamour will fetch votes?
No. Cinematic glamour can at most help draw crowds but not influence voters. People have to be convinced that the contestant can address their problems and work for the development of the region. Pawan is hardly aware of the topography and issues of Gajuwaka.
Did members of your family support your decision to contest for the third time?
I had considered this election as my last-ditch battle in my long and chequered political career. I had to prove myself in this election and all members of my family, except my nephew T Gurumurthy Reddy and his brother — who are in the rival political camp — extended their full support to me.
What are the issues that you highlighted during campaigning?
I had not touched upon national issues and limited myself to local problems such as traffic management, underground drainage, upgradation of high schools, setting up of junior colleges and betterment of medical services. Besides, Gajuwaka is a cosmopolitan industrial hub where labourers are generally opposed to the TDP due to its anti-labour policies. I observed during the campaigning that people wanted to give Jagan a chance and rectify their mistake of electing the TDP in 2014.
Do you think Nagi Reddy magic helped YSRC Lok Sabha candidate in Vizag?
No it was not my magic, instead it was Jagan wave that helped MVV Satyanarayana win Vizag. Nevertheless, securing majority of the votes from Gajuwaka segment helped him steer through to victory.
Are you in the race for a cabinet berth?
It is up to the Chief Minister to choose cabinet ministers. I am not lobbying for any cabinet berth but if Jagan chooses me, I will readily accept it.
Are you happy with the election results?
I feel my dream has come true. I was elated when Jagan called me ‘local hero’ when I met him after the YSRC victory.