All eyes on YS family bastion Pulivendula

Both YSR and Jagan strived for the development of Pulivendula and transformed it into a model town.
Pulivendula bus terminal
Pulivendula bus terminal

KADAPA: Election to the Pulivendula Assembly constituency will be closely watched as the segment holds a record of sorts for electing members of the same family for the past 46 years. In 1978, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, the former Chief Minister, won the Assembly segment for the first time on a Congress ticket. Since then, members of his family have consecutively won the seat for 13 elections, including three by-polls. YSR’s son and current Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has represented the seat for the last two terms and is now vying for a hat-trick win.

Is TDP’s Mareddy Ravindranath Reddy (BTech Ravi), who defeated YSR’s brother YS Vivekanada Reddy in the 2017 MLC elections, capable of winning the family bastion that Pulivendula is? Will Jagan’s vote margin drop from the previous 90,110. Will YS Sharmila contesting the elections from the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat impact the poll prospects of her cousin and two-time MP YS Avinash Reddy? These are all million-dollar questions, whose answers will be known once the results are out on June 4.

Both YSR and Jagan strived for the development of Pulivendula and transformed it into a model town. Till a few decades ago, Pulivendula was bereft of even basic infrastructure. In recognition of the contributions of the former chief minister, Kadapa district was renamed after YSR.

A number of differences emerged within the YS family, following the sudden demise of Rajasekhara Reddy. His wife YS Vijayalakshmi, popularly known as Vijayamma, contested the by-election in 2010 and won unanimously on a Congress ticket. The first split in the family came to the fore when Jagan departed from the Congress. Vijayamma once again contested the by-election, but this time against her brother-in-law YS Vivekananda Reddy, who represented the Congress at the time. She won the elections with a resounding mandate as she polled 81,373 more votes against Viveka.

Following the bifurcation of the State, Vivekananda Reddy, too, quit the Congress and joined his nephew’s party YSRC. Just before the elections in 2019, he was murdered. The YSRC won the 2019 elections with a thumping majority as it swept 151 of the total 175 Assembly and 22 of the 25 Parliament seats.

However, post the poll, the YS family saw a rift between the siblings YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and YS Sharmila.

Ulimella Lake
Ulimella Lake

Sharmila founded the YSR Telangana Party, but did not contest the 2023 Assembly elections in the neighbouring State as she merged her party with the Congress. Later, she was appointed as the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee president. Now, she is all set to take on her cousin YS Avinash Reddy, an accused in the murder of YS Vivekananda Reddy, in the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat.

Fishing in these troubled waters are TDP and its allies, who want to take advantage of the situation and gain from the split in the votes of the YS family. “Jagan has lost popularity. People want Chandrababu Naidu to come back to power. We are confident of victory,” asserted BTech Ravi.

Pulivendula constituency encompasses seven mandals — Simhadripuram, Lingala, Thonduru, Pulivendula, Vemula, Vempalle, and Chakarayapeta which is located in the western part of Kadapa district.

After the constituency was formed in 1955 as per the Delimitation Orders (1955), Penchakala Basi Reddy from Congress won the first election. He lost to Chava Bali Reddy, an independent candidate, in 1962. However, he won the seat again in 1967 and retained it in the 1972. YS Rajasekhara Reddy held the seat from 1978 to 1989. In the 1989 elections, he contested for Kadapa Lok Sabha and his younger brother YS Vivekananda Reddy won Pulivendula. In the 1991 by-election, their other brother YS Purushothama Reddy won the seat. In 1994, Viveka won the seat. However, in 1999, YSR returned to State politics and held the seat till his demise in 2009.

It may be noted that the TDP has never won the Pulivendula Assembly constituency.

When YSR served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for five years and three months from 2004 to 2009, Pulivendula saw a spurt of growth. It was upgraded to a Grade-II municipality from a Panchayat. Not just Pulivendula, but the whole of Kadapa district, which was formed 200 years ago and ranked the lowest in terms of growth, saw significant development.

During YSR’s era, the Kadapa PG centre was upgraded to Yogi Vemana University, and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), a medical college, airport, Kopparthy Industrial Park and Kadapa Ring Road were built. Beautification works of Buggavanka were also taken up during his regime. In Proddatur town, an engineering college was established and a ring road was constructed.

In Pulivendula constituency, JNTU College, IIIT-Idupulapaya, Food Technology College, APCARLA (Andhra Pradesh Centre for Advanced Research on Livestock), Industrial corridors and spinning mills were established. Most importantly, Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) was set up to mine Uranium. YSR also completed the construction of Pulivendula - Kadiri Ghat Road and lift irrigation for Lingala canal.

However, after his demise, the development works in the district were stalled until Jagan was elected.

Pulivendula government school
Pulivendula government school

In the last five years, Jagan ensured the establishment of a medical college, a new hospital, a nursing college, and APSRTC bus stand, beautification of the town, a mini-secretariat, and advancement in agriculture and horticulture.

The YSRC president also established the Aditya Birla garment unit, which has so far 1,500 jobs under phase-1. The project is expected to create a total of 2,100 jobs. The Apache unit is still under construction. With Jagan staying at Tadepalle as he is also the Chief Minister, Kadapa MP YS Avinash Reddy took care of the constituency in his steed.

Micro-irrigation was neglected, disappointing farmers engaged in horticulture. Out of 7,000 Jagananna houses proposed, not even 300 were constructed. Works for the water grid, taken up with `480 crore, are going on at a snail’s pace. Works to provide safe drinking water to villages affected by UCIL have also not been completed yet.

Voters in the region believe that work done in the district was not as expected as several proposed industries are yet to be set up. Some sections of the people in the constituency thought that instead of focusing on beautification and infrastructure, focus on job creation would have been better.

“There is no doubt that the YS family has developed the constituency. However, had the focus been on improving job opportunities, it would have been much better,” said M Ramprasad, a businessman in Pulivendula.

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