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BAPATLA: None of the contesting candidates from Bapatla Lok Sabha (SC) constituency have won in two successive terms since 1984. The constituency spread over the picturesque coastal belt of Guntur and Prakasam districts has a sizable chunk of dalits. Salagala Benjamin (Congress) is the only dalit Christian to win an election from here (1989) when it was unreserved.Stakes high
The stakes are high for all contenders as it is the first elections to be held after getting reserved status in the delimitation exercise. Union Minister Panabaka Lakshmi (Congress) is locked in a triangular contest with a former revenue official Sriram Malyadri (TDP) and a retired IAS officer Nuttaki Rama Rao (PR).
Post-delimitation, the constituency comprises three Assembly segments in Guntur district - Bapatla, Repalle and Vemuru (SC) and four Assembly constituencies in Prakasam district - Chirala, Addanki, Parchur and Santhanutalapadu (SC).
Ms. Lakshmi, the three-time MP from Nellore finds herself on a sticky wicket and is hoping that a ‘positive vote’ endorsing the developmental works and welfare schemes of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government and the State government would see her through.Lone fight
Probably for the first time in her political career, she has to trudge alone without the backing of senior leaders like N. Janardhana Reddy and faces an uphill task with the prospect of a tight contest in five out of the seven segments.
In Bapatla, her fortunes depend on sitting MLA Gade Venkat Reddy’s ability of countering rebel trouble and a determined opposition, while at Chirala, she has to counter a likely backlash from the influential weaver community, which might shift its loyalties to TDP, after J. Srinivasa Rao was allotted the ticket.
Even a seasoned politician like Daggubati Venkateswara Rao is facing rough weather in Parchur, leaving just Santhanutalapadu in Prakasam district and Vemuru in Guntur district as safe seats for the Congress.
The TDP candidate Mr. Malyadri is banking on the anti-incumbency wave and the effort of senior leaders like Karanam Balaram, Gottipati Narasaiah and Chirala Govardhana Reddy, who have fair chances of getting elected in their respective constituencies. The split in the Congress vote bank caused by the PR might go to his advantage.
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