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Rich in resources yet backward

By P. Ram Mohan


PRAKASAM DISTRICT

Assembly constituencies: 13

Lok Sabha: Ongole

Voters: 19,29,797

Men: 9,50,282

Women: 9,79,215

PRAKASAM DISTRICT, named after veteran freedom fighter and the first Chief Minister of erstwhile Andhra State, Tanguturu Prakasam, was carved out of Nellore, Guntur and Kurnool districts in 1972.

Backward among coastal districts, its economy is predominantly agro-based with about 80 per cent people residing in the rural areas. The district has two distinct regions -- the crop-rich Krishna delta and the parched western parts.

Granite, textiles, fishing and prawn culture, Virginia tobacco and dairying are the major economic activities. Cheemakurthy galaxy granite has been popular in America, Europe, China and in many Asian countries. Virginia tobacco accounts for more than 60 per cent of total production in the country.

Prakasam was elected from Ongole to the Andhra Assembly in the 1955 by-election. However, he had died even before the completion of full term.


Actor Kongara Jaggaiah, who died in Chennai on Friday, was the first film celebrity to enter electoral politics in the State when he was elected on Congress ticket from Ongole to the Lok Sabha in 1967. The BJP president, M. Venkaiah Naidu, had made his debut in politics by unsuccessfully contesting for the Lok Sabha from here in 1977. It has been customary for the Congress to field Magunta Subbarami Reddy family members for the Lok Sabha since 1991.

Before the advent of the Telugu Desam Party in 1983, the electoral battle mainly centred round the Congress and the Communists. After the emergence of the TDP it has become a bastion of that party.

In the 1999 elections, the district had seen a mixed trend with the TDP bagging eight, while its main rival Congress five, in 1994 the former had a landslide by winning 11 seats, reversing the Congress achievement in 1989.

Right from 1983, Martur has proved to be a citadel for the TDP. M. Adinarayana Reddy had won from Kandukur as an Independent, rolling back the TDP wave in1983, as did Kandula Nagarjuna Reddy, the lone Congress winner from Cumbum. Gade Venkat Reddy, PCC vice-president, a battle-scarred veteran, has won thrice and lost six times since 1967.


The political families of Pidatala Ranga Reddy and Kandula Obul Reddy held undisputed sway on Giddalur and Cumbum respectively. Pidatala family members got elected seven times out of 11 elections, while the Kandula family six times.

The two notable features of the recent period are the entry of the former Minister, Daggubati Venkateswar Rao into the Congress and Nagarjuna Reddy into the Telugu Desam.

Dr. Daggubati's joining boosted the morale of the Congress cadre. Nagarjuna Reddy wants to be in the fray as TDP nominee from the Narasaraopet Parliamentary constituency.

In the local body elections, the TDP proved its supremacy by winning 33 ZPTCs and retaining the ZP Chairperson post.

The Congress and Independents together won 23. With naxalites threatening to prevent TDP and BJP leaders from campaigning, tension prevails in Markapur division.

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