Udayagiri: Unemployment, migration key challenges for contenders

Established in 1951, the Udayagiri constituency comprises eight mandals, characterised by upland areas with minimal water resources.
Representative Image
Representative Image

NELLORE: Drought, unemployment and migration are some of the challenges that the winning candidate in Udayagiri Assembly segment of Nellore district will have to tackle soon after coming to power.

While the YSRC has roped in Mekapati Rajagopal Reddy, the TDP has fielded Kakarla Suresh. It may be pertinent to note that both the contenders are electoral debutants.

The constituency has a legacy of its own as former Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu commenced his legislative journey from Udayagiri on Janata Party ticket back in 1978. Former Nellore MP Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy had secured victory in 1985 under the Congress banner.

Mekapati Rajagopal Reddy, YSRC
Mekapati Rajagopal Reddy, YSRC

Since 1952, the Congress party has won the constituency seven times. Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy (1985), Madala Janaki Ram (1989), and Mekapati Chandrasekhar Reddy (2004 and 2009) were among those who won from the segment on a Congress ticket. In 2019, Chandrasekhar Reddy won from the segment under the YSRC banner. However, he was suspended for alleged cross-voting in the MLC elections. Subsequently, the sitting MLA joined the TDP.

TDP’s Kambam Vijayarami Reddy and Bolleneni Venkata Ramarao have represented the constituency in 1999 and 2014 respectively.

Established in 1951, the Udayagiri constituency comprises eight mandals, characterised by upland areas with minimal water resources.

Kakarla Suresh, TDP
Kakarla Suresh, TDP

Consequently, around 20 to 25 per cent people from rural areas of Udayagiri, Seetharamapuram, Varikuntapadu, Vinjamuru and other upland mandals migrate to various cities such as Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru to eke out a living.

Majority of farmers in the region cultivate horticulture crops and have been facing severe shortage of water for cultivation.

U Raju, a resident of Vinjamuru mandal, said, “The reasons for such high migration rate is the lack of adequate MNREGA mandays, no local employment opportunities and severe drought conditions in most mandals.”

The region is home to the GI-tagged Udayagiri wooden cutlery. However, artisans struggle to make ends meet due to poor marketing strategies and inadequate post-production sales promotion. The craft fails to attract consumers, leading to financial constraints for the artisans. The cutlery is crafted with wood sourced locally from the forests surrounding Udayagiri. These utensils often feature Persian-inspired designs and shapes, serving both decorative and practical needs.

Sajid, a resident of Udayagiri, revealed that approximately 400 artisans are engaged in crafting the renowned Udayagiri wooden cutlery. A common facility centre, established nearly two decades ago with support of an NGO and the government, serves as a hub for these artisans. However, Sajid raised concerns over the inadequate space and leakages in the centre during the rainy season, which hampers the artisans’ productivity.

The centre is equipped with machinery worth `10 lakh, yet it has addressed only half of the issues faced by the artisans, Sajid noted.

Insufficient infrastructure and lack of proper maintenance pose significant challenges to the artisans, hindering their ability to work efficiently and meet market demands.

Another sticking point in the region is the Somasila High Level Canal, which is aimed to provide irrigation and drinking water to upland areas of Udayagiri segment. However, the works have not gained momentum and the project remains incomplete.

Amid issues that have been plaguing the segment, a political battle is underway with the Mekapati family trying to retain its stronghold over the constituency following the suspension of Chandrasekhar Reddy. Meanwhile, the TDP is making efforts to secure votes, particularly from the supporters of the suspended MLA.

Former MP and senior YSRC leader Rajamohan Reddy has played a pivotal role in maintaining relations with followers of Mekapati Chandrasekhar Reddy. Initially, Mekapati’s daughter Rachana Reddy was considered, but ultimately Raja Reddy was chosen.

Although Raja Reddy is making an electoral debut, he has played a crucial role in victories of Mekapati Goutham Reddy in Atmakur and Chandrasekhar Reddy in Udayagiri in 2014 and 2019 elections.

Asserting that the ruling YSRC has taken measures in developing upland mandals in the segment, Raja Reddy said, “The YSRC has been implementing welfare schemes and providing benefits at people’s doorstep across the State. Around 99 per cent of the poll promises made in the party’s manifesto have been fulfilled. The Mekapati family shares a strong bond with the people of Udayagiri.”

TDP’s face Kakarla Suresh is known in the constituency for his charitable endeavours. A local in the segment, Suresh has been actively campaigning in the region to seek public mandate.

He has engaged in activities such as conducting medical camps and food distribution on a daily basis. Alleging that there has been no development in the region under the YSRC rule, Suresh has pledged to prevent migrations by creating local employment.

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