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Tummala Nageswara Rao in for a grim battle

By D. Chandra Bhaskar Rao


SATHUPALLI (KHAMMAM DIST), APRIL 8. Sathupalli has earned the sobriquet "little Amethi of Andhra'' and not without reason. Decades of steady progress have turned it into a model Assembly constituency and the development indices often favourably compared with the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu's Kuppam. "This is what makes me win votes,'' says the Minister for Roads and Buildings, Tummala Nageswara Rao, who is seeking re-election from the constituency on TDP ticket. Sathupalli had taken the prime share of Rs. 337.75 crores in the development funds spent in the nine constituencies of the district from 1995-96 to 2003-2004.

But his message of development seemed to have no takers in the election. He is putting his extra energies and resources at stake to meet the new challenge. There is an under current of tension in the Telugu Desam camp. The opponents of the Minister who had for long been in oblivion have begun to rise from the ashes like the Phoenix.

They have found a new leader to rally around in Jalagam Venkata Rao, the younger son of the former Chief Minister, J. Vengala Rao. Shedding his initial aversion for politics, the foreign educated youth had for the past seven months been campaigning intensively in tribal hamlets and villages of the constituency.

The clean image of the soft spoken Rao could help loyalists of the Jalagam family who lost their political identity after the expulsion of his brother, Jalagam Prasada Rao from the Congress four years ago for allegedly working against P. Sudhakar Reddy, Congress nominee in the last election. However, Mr. Venkata Rao has worked in the constituency together with Mr. Sudhakar Reddy.

Sathupalli is a constituency known for tribal-non-tribal divide with the land in the custody of the latter being a major issue which is still alive. Mr. Venkata Rao with his loyalty for the tribals and poor non-tribal farmers, promises a just solution.

A new breed of political activists comprising mostly of the contractors, who had been executing works all these day had emerged all powerful in Sathupalli. Identified with the Minister's camp they have been the envy of other sections in the constituency. TDP leaders such as Bandi Gurunath Reddy were aspiring party ticket to contest from the Khammam parliamentary constituency. They were disappointed as Nama Nageswar Rao, chief of Madhucon group, turned out to be the choice of the Minister as well as the party leadership for the constituency. The Minister is using his verbal flamboyance in Koya dialect to woo the tribe. Mr. Venkata Rao finds himself handicapped on this count but pleads with tribals to give him an opportunity to represent them and master their language as well.

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