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'Do you think people trust Chandrababu Naidu?'

April 21, 2014 13:22 IST

Jagan's mum set to turn the tide in Vishakhapatanam

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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com in Vishakhapatanam

'People know what Naidu is. I want to know if he will come clean on his various scams... He has given away land at throwaway prices to his stooges. How can he call my son corrupt?'

Vijayamma, who has changed the game in Vishakhapatanam, tells Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa why her son Jaganmohan Reddy will be Seema-Andhra's first chief minister.

In Vishakapatanam, the talk is not about who will win the Lok Sabha seat, but by how many votes.

Some YSR Congress supporters say the party's candidate Vijayamma, the late chief minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's widow, could win by more than 300,000 votes, even against a powerful opponent like K Hari Babu, the Bharatiya Janata Party's Andhra Pradesh unit chief.

His mother's candidature was a most strategic move played by YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy.

Jagan, whose influence in Rayalseema is said to almost match his father's clout in the region, has deployed his mum as his trump card to break into coastal Andhra Pradesh.

The Telugu Desam Party depends on an impressive electoral showing in coastal Andhra to make a mark.

Vijayamma, always a popular figure across the state, rode the sympathy wave after she toured the state following her husband's death in a helicopter crash and her son's consequent arrest.

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Image: Vijayamma greets supporters during a campaign rally in Vishakhapatanam.
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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'Do you think people trust Chandrababu Naidu?'

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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

"There is need to bring back the golden rule of YSR and my son is capable of doing that," says Vijayamma. "Seema-Andhra needs development at any cost."

She has no doubt that her son will be Seema-Andhra's first chief minister.

"Do you think the people trust (TDP chief Nara) Chandrababu Naidu?" she asks rediff.com "Naidu has never bothered about rural development and the people in these areas don't care for him. Jagan is a man of the masses and understands the pain of the people."

"We will take governance to the door step," she says, no longer the lady who often broke down in public when she narrated the knocks life had dealt her. "Our first commitment will be to ensure proper power supply and also build nearly 50 lakh (5 million) homes for the poor."

Vijayamma says it is important for the YSR Congress party to do well in the Lok Sabha election. "We want a sizeable number of seats, it should be more than 25. Only then can we put pressure on the Centre and seek welfare of our state," she says, adding that the BJP-TDP alliance does not worry her.

"People know what Naidu is. I want to know if he will come clean on his various scams," she says about the man whom her husband defeated twice, in 2004 and 2009, to become Andhra Pradesh chief minister. "The liquor scam, scholarship scam, Eleru scam, fake stamp paper scandal..."

"He has given away land worth several crores at throwaway prices to his stooges. Do you think the people have forgotten how he left 25,000 employees on the roads after he ensured that 54 public sector units underwent a loss? He had also given away 850 acres of land in Hyderabad at a throwaway price. This is what Naidu is. How can he call my son corrupt?"

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Image: Nara Chandrababu Naidu participates in an anti-price rise protest in Hyderabad.
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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'The Congress was scared of his growth and some people put him behind bars to further their agenda'

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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

"A good leader is what the people miss most," she says. "I have been stressing the need to have a good leader for better development. My husband's demise ended the golden era of the state. The people now have a chance to bring it back."

"My son was the victim of a political conspiracy," she tells Rediff.com "The Congress was scared of his growth and some people put him behind bars to further their agenda. The people have come to our rescue and you will see in what large numbers they will vote for the YSR Congress."

Villagers come up to her and weep, telling Vijayamma what her late husband meant to them.

"Why have you come to us?" asks one emotional villager, "we will come to you."

The Congress comfortably won the Vishakhapatanam Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and 2009.

With the Congress out of the reckoning this time -- after it was portrayed as the villain for its championing the division of the state -- the contest is between the YSR Congress and the BJP, the TDP having given up Vishakhapatanam to the BJP under the seat-sharing arrangement.

The BJP's Hari Babu seemed set to win until the YSR Congress announced Vijayamma's candidature. Many observers now believe the TDP-BJP combine could lose both the Lok Sabha and eight assembly seats in Vishakapatnam. Seema-Andhra elects Lok Sabha and assembly candidates this election.

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Image: Y S Jaganmohan Reddy addresses a rally in Kadapa, where his family has unprecednted influence.
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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'Modi factor, alliance with TDP to help BJP'

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Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com

Hari Babu is optimistic about his chances. The Modi factor and the tie-up with the TDP will help him, Hari Babu feels.

The BJP will rely on Vizag East, Gajuwaka and Bheemli, traditional TDP strongholds, he adds.

The BJP will also try to attract 150,000 lakh North Indian votes in Vishakhapatanam, which has 1.6 million voters.

In 2009, the BJP won a meagre 5 per cent of the vote in this constituency.

In the urban pockets of the constituency, there is support for the TDP-BJP which is relying heavily on the Modi factor.

However, urban voters will not entirely decide the victor. The seven other assembly constituencies have voters who swear by the YSR legacy.

Clearly, Vijayamma has that edge.


Image: Narendra Modi greets supporters at a rally in Hyderabad.
Photographs: SnapsIndia

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