Nellore: TDP leaders not sure on Panabaka contest
- There has been no response from Panabaka Lakshmi’s camp so far to the announcement of TDP chief that she will again contest as party nominee in Tirupati Lok Sabha constituency where she lost in 2019
- Party leaders in the district are expressing suspicions that she will not contest the bypoll given her silence
Nellore: Even though the TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu had announced Panabaka Lakshmi as the candidate for Tirupati Lok Sabha reserved constituency, there has been little enthusiasm in her camp as it has not yet recovered the impact of defeat in 2019. Of the seven Assembly segments under the LS constituency, the TDP could not bag any one in Assembly elections.
Sarvepalli, Gudur, Sullurpet, and Venkatagiri Assembly segments in Nellore district and Srikalahasti, Tirupati, and Satyavedu in Chittoor district fall under Tirupati Parliamentary constituency. YSRCP candidates won in all these segments last year, though it got small margins in Tirupati and Sarvepalli seats. Amongst them, Gudur, Sullurpet, and Satyavedu are reserved for the SCs.
"Even though the party had announced the name of the candidate a couple of days ago, there has been no response either from the candidate or from the cadres. Panabaka family, in fact, had shifted loyalties from the Congress just before elections and contested from the TDP. After losing the election, they are keeping away from the party activities for the last one-and-a-half years. The TDP leaders are doubting that she will contest the polls," said a senior TDP leader from Nellore.
Normally, as soon as the party announces the name, candidate or cadres come forward to address the media and express their feelings.
However, this time even the party leaders say Panabaka Lakshmi or any of her representatives are 'unreachable', indicating their lack of interest in the contest.
During the 2019 polls, YSRCP candidate B Durga Prasada Rao, who was not much unfamiliar with the Tirupati constituency, sailed to victory easily owing to YSRCP wave across the state. He was a staunch TDP leader and follower of former Minister Nallapureddy Srinivasulu Reddy and the TDP founder N T Rama Rao.
He represented the Gudur Assembly constituency for four times, i.e. between 1985-1989, 1994-1999, 1999-2004 and 2009-2014 and served as education minister in N Chandrababu Naidu's government during 1996 and 1998. He shifted his loyalty to the YSRCP in 2019 and was fielded from Tirupati LS seat.
Panabaka Lakshmi, who served as MP from Nellore Lok Sabha constituency between 1996-98, 1998- 99, and 2004-09, from the Congress. Subsequently, she shifted to the Bapatla LS constituency and won the polls in 2009 there. She joined TDP just before the elections in 2019 and contested for Tirupati constituency where she had was defeat with a margin of around 2.28 lakh votes. Now, she has to face the YSRCP's strong candidate Dr Gurumoorthy, who is a native of the constituency.