TIRUPATI: The disastrous performance of the Congress in the recent bypolls has turned the Tirupati byelection into a litmus test for the party. Congress leaders are currently indulging in intense lobbying for the party ticket for the coveted seat. It became vacant after its sitting MLA and superstar K Chiranjeevi was elected to the Rajya Sabha.
Former MLA M Venkataramana, Minister Galla Aruna Kumari’s son Galla Jayadev Naidu, leaders Saikam Jayachandra Reddy and P Hariprasad are some of the top contenders for the ticket. The party leadership’s message is loud and clear: the ticket would go to the candidate who has the maximum chances of winning the seat.
Sources say that the main contest for the party ticket is between Venkataramana and Galla Jayadev. The former has the advantage of being a local, who also commands the support of his fellow Balija community members. The temple town has a considerable Balija vote percentage. The latter on the other hand belongs to a prominent political family and has exhibited his shrewd campaigning skills while campaigning for his mother in the general elections.
Venkataramana’s chances seem brighter because he has the support of former Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams chairman DK Audikesavulu Naidu. Sources say that Naidu is busy gathering support from every possible power base in the party to ensure a ticket to
Meanwhile the ruling Congress is going all-out to appease the Tirupati voters. It has cleared several new projects and also fast tracked many other projects in the constituency. Disclosing the slew of schemes in the pipeline, municipal corporation commissioner T Prasad said that `125 cr has been sanctioned for various schemes, including a new housing programme for construction of 1,800 houses, with an outlay of `73 cr at Vikruthmala, 18 km from here.
The government is undertaking expansion of underground drainage system at the cost of `16 cr, solid waste management and construction of 4,080 houses in Padipeta at the expense of `23 cr. Under the Indiramma Housing Programme the government has granted `13.6 cr. The commissioner added that more funds under various schemes like BGRF are underway.
Recently, at a public meeting organised in connection with the distribution of assets to the self-help groups, Mines Minister G Aruna Kumari, local MP Chinta Mohan and K Chiranjeevi gave a detailed note about various development works taken up by the Congress in the constituency and called upon the people to support the party in the coming byelection. Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy was also present at the meeting, but he chose not to say much, but just highlight the money spent on development works in Tirupati. He said that a fund of `31 cr has been allocated for drinking water. The town will soon get 31 million litres of water as against the 30 million litres being