YSRC’s first-timer squares off with Sujana in Vijayawada West

Initially, it was believed that Pothina Venkata Mahesh of Jana Sena will be fielded from the West constituency as a candidate of tripartite alliance.
The YSRC fielded Shaik Asif as the MLA candidate after the incumbent Velampalli Srinivasa Rao was shifted to Vijayawada Central constituency.
The YSRC fielded Shaik Asif as the MLA candidate after the incumbent Velampalli Srinivasa Rao was shifted to Vijayawada Central constituency.

VIJAYAWADA: The Vijayawada West constituency, which was established in 1967 as per the Delimitation Orders and has been a stronghold for Indian National Congress (INC) and Left wing, has later turned bastion for YSRC party consecutively in 2014 and 2019. This general election is going to witness a ‘David vs Goliath’ battle as the first timer Shaik Asif is contesting against the former Union Minister of State Y Satyanarayana Chowdary alias Y Sujana Chowdary.

The YSRC fielded Shaik Asif as the MLA candidate after the incumbent Velampalli Srinivasa Rao was shifted to Vijayawada Central constituency replacing the sitting MLA Malladi Vishnuvardhan. Both the candidates filed their nominations recently and are getting ready for intensified election campaigns. While Sujana Chowdary filed his nomination on April 18, Asif filed his nomination the next day.

At a time when the YSRC announcing the list of incharges for the constituencies in a phased manner in the month, the appointment of Asif as incharge for Vijayawada West constituency came as a surprise for all the party leaders. Till the announcement of incharges, the decision to change the constituency for Velampalli Srinivasa Rao was not revealed. This has created an opportunity for Asif to fill the vacuum.

Initially, it was believed that Pothina Venkata Mahesh of Jana Sena will be fielded from the West constituency as a candidate of tripartite alliance. However, something unexpected happened as the alliance reserved the seat for BJP and brought former Union minister of the State Sujana Chowdary.

While opposition Telugu Desam is backing Sujana Chowdary who belongs to the BJP, Asif solely depended on Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s charisma and traditional vote bank.

“Though I was new to Vijayawada, the TDP and BJP leaders are giving enough confidence and support to carry out the campaigns and meetings with the ground level leaders. This helped me in meeting people and instil confidence among them. It is very unfortunate to see how the previous legislators failed to develop it on par with other constituencies in the city,” said the BJP candidate Sujana Chowdary.

On the other hand, the political experts called the decision of YSRC to field Shaik Asif, who belongs to a Muslim community, as a strategic move as it will gain the confidence of other backward classes in the segment along with the scheduled castes. “Asif was a corporator in the past, later appointed as Chairman for Muslim minorities finance corporation soon after YSRC came to power. He has strong connections in two Muslim dominated areas in the constituency. Now, the recent joining of JSP leader Pothina Venkata Mahesh into YSRC will add extra benefit for the YSRC candidate as the Nagaralu community will cast their votes in favour of YSRC,” experts opined.

On close observation of the ongoing political scenario, it is expected that whoever makes a little effort to woo the Vysya and Marwadi communities can emerge as the winner. Earlier, these two communities supported Velampalli Srinivasa Rao twice in the 2009 and 2019 elections. With Rao shifted to the Central, there formed a gap between the YSRC candidate and the community. Public opined that the insecurity feeling of the Vysya and Marwadi communities can take away the winning chances of Asif if he fails to gain their confidence.

“People are in no mood to believe in the TDP-JSP-BJP alliance. It is the YSRC government which balanced welfare and development in the State,” Asif told TNIE.

The Vijayawada West constituency mainly consists of eight areas—One town, Panja centre, Milk factory, Vidyadharapuram, Bhavanipuram, Chittinagar, KBN college junction and Old RR Pet. “Of the eight areas, YSRC has a stronghold in Bhavanipuram, Panja Centre, Milk factory and Old RR Pet. With Pothina Venkata Mahesh joining the YSRC, more than 80 per cent of the Nagaralu community voters residing in Chittinagar and KBN college will support YSRC,” Asif said.

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