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Congress is gaining ground in Penukonda

B. Chandrashekhar

Paritala still a popular leader; people yearning for peace

PENUKONDA: The major difference the Penukonda Assembly constituency has been witnessing in the current byelection is the perceptible increase in the open support to the Congress, which was a taboo during the last 10 years when Paritala Ravindra was the MLA.

Not that the Congress was completely buried during Ravindra's time but the support to the party was mostly under cover. Support to the Congress has been on the rise since the last Assembly election and it has gained momentum with the party returning to power and G. Bhanumati, wife Suryanarayana Reddy alias Suri, the Jubilee Hills car bomb case convict and main accused in the Ravi murder case, taking over the reins of the party in the segment.

Rumbling in TDP

A visit to several villages in the constituency revealed the TDP vote bank's resentment against second rung leaders for neglecting the constituents for long. Sympathy for the TDP candidate, Paritala Sunita, was visible even in a few Congress-dominated pockets.

Both Congress and TDP have been concentrating mostly at each other's strongholds, neglecting areas under their sway.

Roddam mandal, with a majority of voters from the backward classes, has been a TDP bastion since 1994. "But, the Congress is ahead in campaigning this time,'' says Nagaraju, a Valmiki (BC) Sangham member.

The constituency has been known for its dominant politics from the beginning. It was Congress which was calling the shots till 1994, with an exception to the popularity and sympathy for N.T. Rama Rao in the 1983 and 1985 polls. But, the next decade belonged to Ravindra or the TDP. The tide appears to be turning again now.

"The leading party always has its say here. The following and affection for Ravindra are still there. But, it remains to be seen whether it will reflect in votes, '' says Nagaraju, a laundry owner at Roddam.

After witnessing a cycle of violence for the last two decades, people are yearning for peace. "People want the election to be a peaceful affair, irrespective of the winner,'' says Ranganayakulu of Dubbarlapalli in Ramagiri mandal. Similar was the wish of many in several other villages of the constituency.

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