THE contest in the Araku Lok Sabha constituency of Andhra Pradesh just got more interesting. After senior Congress leader V Kishore Chandra Deo switched over to the TDP and was named the party candidate from the seat reserved for STs, the Congress has now fielded his daughter, V Sruthi Devi, from there. The YSRCP’s candidate is G Madhavi, a schoolteacher and the daughter of former CPI MLA G Demudu, who passed away in October 2015.
While Deo is a six-time MP, Sruthi and Madhavi are making their poll debut. Follow more election news here.
A New Delhi-based Supreme Court lawyer and author of two books, Sruthi, 46, had applied for a Congress ticket from Araku in February. A member of the Andhra Pradesh PCC, she had in the past campaigned for her father when he was with the Congress. She is also involved in policymaking and strategy planning in the Congress.
Sruthi said she was confident of doing well. “I know the constituency as well as my father. Much of the groundwork in Araku has been done by me on his behalf for many years. I have reached out to all sections of tribals in the constituency for nearly 22 years. I will win with the biggest margin over my father.”
About Deo’s decision to leave the Congress for the TDP, Sruthi said, “A lot of young people are managing affairs in the Congress now and some senior leaders like my father may have felt out of place and decided to move out.”
Deo, 72, who joined the TDP on February 24, said the Araku fight should not be seen as a family feud. “Sruthi is my daughter but we should be seen as two individuals belonging to different parties contesting the election… She is a grown-up person and not dependent on me and she intends to contest. That is her decision. We have our strengths and, like other candidates, we will be campaigning and meeting people and do our best to win.”
Deo repeated the charge that after spending 42 years in the Congress, he did not see any future for the party in the state, and hence decided to join the TDP.
While also fighting her first election like Sruthi, YSRCP candidate Madhavi, 26, said she too is not new to politics. “My father was an MLA in 1994 and 2004 from Chintapalli. He worked tirelessly for the welfare of tribals in this area and due to him I know a lot about the typical problems that tribals face. I joined politics to continue the work that my father started,” Madhavi said.
Having done BSc (Computers) and Bachelors in Physical Education, she teaches Physical Education at a tribal school in Paderu.
Spread over four districts, Araku is the second-largest constituency in the country and includes seven Assembly segments — Araku Valley and Paderu in Visakhapatnam district; Palakonda in Srikakulam; Kurupam, Parvathipuram and Salur in Vizianagaram; and Rampachodavaram in East Godavari.
In 2014, the YSRCP’s Kothapalli Geetha had won the seat, but she later resigned and floated her own party. In the Assembly elections held simultaneously, of the seven segments falling under the Araku Lok Sabha constituency, the YSRCP had won six and the TDP Parvathipuram.