The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) is doing everything possible to win the by-election to the Atmakur Assembly constituency, slated for June 23. The ruling party appears to on a good wicket in the Assembly seat, which is considered a pocket borough of the Mekapati family.
Braving the scorching heat, YSRCP nominee Mekapati Vikram Reddy, brother of former Information Technology Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy whose death necessitated the bypoll, canvassed door-to-door in Atmakur on Sunday. He highlighted the welfare schemes introduced by the ruling party including ‘Navaratnalu’. He promised that he would focus on completing the pending development projects.
The YSRCP is taking the bypoll seriously as the results will gauge the mood of the people ahead of the 2024 Assembly elections, according to sources in the party. Former Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy won the seat twice in 2014 and 2019, with a margin of more than 31,000 and 22,000 votes respectively.
Meanwhile, former MP and YSRCP leader Mekapati Rajmohan Reddy, father of Mekapati Goutham Reddy, held a meeting with the party leaders including former Energy Minister Balineni Srinvasa Reddy, Rajya Sabha member Vemireddy Prabhakar Reddy and Agriculture Minister Kakani Govardhan Reddy to finetune the political strategy for the bypoll.
‘’Welfare schemes will ensure the party’s victory in the Atmakur bypoll. We are confident of a win by a margin of more than 1 lakh votes,” said Mr. Govardhan Reddy after the meeting.
It may be noted that the YSRCP bagged all the 10 Assembly seats in undivided SPSR Nellore district in 2019 elections. “The YSRCP has lined up a host of Ministers including Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy, Ambati Rambabu and R.K. Roja, who would make repeated visits to the constituency to woo the voters,” said Mr. Srinivasa Reddy.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee Gundlapalli Bharat Kumar Yadav is making an all-out effort to upset the applecart of the YSRCP by projecting the saffron party as the alternative to the ruling party in the State.
“Atmakur will be a springboard for the BJP to come to power in 2024,” he said with confidence during his whistle-stop campaign. He projected the welfare and development initiatives launched by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the ‘liberal Central assistance being provided’ by it to the State.
“Many Centrally funded schemes have been repackaged to appear as if they are introduced by the YSRCP with its own funds,” charged Mr. Bharat Kumar, who is BJP’s Nellore district unit president and former vice-chairman of Kavali Municipality.
TDP stays away
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) will not contest the bypoll, in sync with a convention set by it in the past to pave the way for a member of the deceased MLA to retain the seat.
Bahujana Samaj Party nominee N. Obulesu, Indian Muslim League candidate Sk. Moinudeen, All India Hindu Mahasabha Party nominee K. Madhava Nayudu and four Independent candidates—T. Sashidhar Reddy, Bandaru Ravi, Udayagiri Ravi, and B. Subba Reddy—are also testing their electoral fortunes in Atmakur.