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Question mark over NJR's candidature from Narasaraopet

By A. Saye Sekhar

GUNTUR, JAN. 13. Will the former Chief Minister, Nedurumalli Janardhana Reddy, contest from the Narasaraopet Lok Sabha constituency again? However, Congress circles are sceptical about Mr. Reddy seeking re-election from the constituency.

Mr. Reddy never sought a re-election from any Lok Sabha constituency for second time. He contested the Lok Sabha election for the first time in 1998 from Bapatla and defeated Ummareddy Venkateswarlu of the Telugu Desam Party. He shifted to Narasaraopet in the 1999 general election and won the seat.

In all probability, Mr. Reddy was likely to shift to Visakhapatnam as T. Subbirami Reddy was elected to the Rajya Sabha. But, sources close to Mr. Janardhana Reddy in Guntur district said he might contest from Narasaraopet again as some surveys indicated that it could be a safe bet for him. Even Mr. Reddy did not spell out his intentions during an informal chat with newsmen in Guntur recently.

Of the seven Assembly constituencies in the Narasaraopet segment, four -- Macherla, Gurazala, Vinukonda and Narasaraopet -- Assembly seats form part of Guntur district while the Darsi, Cumbum and Markapur Assembly segments form part of Prakasam district. Mr. Reddy secured very high majority when compared to his nearest rival and TDP candidate, S.M. Lal Jan Basha, in the three Assembly segments of Prakasam district while Mr. Basha had the upper hand over Mr. Reddy in the Assembly segments of Guntur district.

However, the majority secured by the former Chief Minister in the three Assembly seats of Prakasam district outshone the majority gained by Mr. Basha in Guntur district resulting in an overall majority of over 19,000 votes to Mr. Reddy. Some Congressmen reportedly had a survey conducted in this constituency and told the former Chief Minister that he would stand to gain in some of the Assembly segments in Guntur district this time.

However, some leaders feel that those who have got the survey conducted have many `tricks' up their sleeves. Those who want to seek an election from one or two of the four Assembly segments are painting a rosy picture about the poll prospects of the party so as to derive benefit out of Mr. Reddy's candidature here, they aver.

In the event of the former Chief Minister moving out of this constituency, the Congress may persuade the former Narasaraopet MP, Kasu Venkata Krishna Reddy, to enter the fray. It is not known whether Mr. Krishna Reddy is willing to contest the Assembly elections or the Lok Sabha poll. Even the TDP will have to search for a candidate from this seat as Mr. Basha was elected to the Rajya Sabha.

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