Visakhapatnam Parliamentary constituency is set for a battle of nerves as the TDP and YSR Congress Party try to wrest it from the BJP. The BJP has not decided whether to renominate its sitting MP, Kambhampati Hari Babu. The Congress and BJP, as well as debutant Jana Sena, were waiting to see who the TDP and YSRCP would field.
On Tuesday, the TDP decided to field M Sri Bharat, grandson of TDP leader MVVS Murthi, founder of Gandhi Institute of Technology and Management. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu was earlier against his nomination as they are related. Bharat is the son-in-law of actor-turned-politician N Balakrishna, who is Naidu’s brother-in-law. Click here for election stories
While Naidu is contesting from Kuppam, his son Lokesh Naidu is contesting from Mangalagiri and brother-in-law Balakrishna from Hindupur. “He did not want another member of the family to be nominated, but relented after all the TDP leaders of Visakhapatnam district put pressure on him to nominate Bharat,” a TDP leader said.
The YSRCP nominated builder MVV Satyanarayana, sparking a backlash from supporters of YSRCP leader Vamsi Srinivas Yadav who vandalised the YSRCP office in the port city. Satyanarayana, a crorepati builder who created his own company MVV Builders, joined YSRCP recently. Leaders of both parties said that with an educationist and a builder pitched against each other, a tough fight was on the cards between the TDP and YSRCP.
In 2014, BJP’s Hari Babu won against YSRCP’s Y S Vijayamma, mother of Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, mainly because of TDP support. The TDP had allotted the seat to the BJP as part of their seat-sharing agreement.
The TDP has a powerful presence in the constituency — in 2014, it won six of the seven Assembly segments in the constituency, while BJP’s P Vishnu Kumar Raju won from Visakhapatnam (North) Assembly seat.
Hari Babu, the BJP MP, was also the party’s Andhra Pradesh state president, but he resigned last April. Sources said it was unclear if he would be renominated. Former Union minister D Purandeswari, who has now joined BJP, is also eyeing Visakhapatnam ticket.
TDP and BJP leaders said the main reason why parties were taking time to nominate candidates for Visakhapatnam was because of actor-turned-politician K Pawan Kalyan. If he decides to contest from any of the Assembly constituencies in Visakhapatnam district, then parties will have to reassess their strategies. On Tuesday, Jana Sena announced that Pawan would contest from Gajuwaka, which is in Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha constituency, as well as Bhimavaram in West Godavari district.