Murali Mohan relies on cross-voting
Rajahmundry MP Constituency: Murali Mohan Relies on Cross-Voting. Veteran film actor Maganti Murali Mohan, TDP candidate from Rajahmundry, was waiting for another actor, a younger hero, Pawan Kalyan, at Subrahmanyam maidan on Friday evening.
In 2009, Rajahmundry-Rural, Rajanagaram, Kovvuru, Nidadavolu and Gopalapuram were bagged by the TDP. Now the YSRCP appears to be doing well in Anaparthy, Rajahmundry-Rural, Rajahmundry-Urban, Kovvuru and Nidadavolu. Only Gopalapuram and Rajanagaram are showing a tilt towards the TDP
Rajahmundry: Veteran film actor Maganti Murali Mohan, TDP candidate from Rajahmundry, was waiting for another actor, a younger hero, Pawan Kalyan, at Subrahmanyam maidan on Friday evening. The moderate crowd loudly cheered the hero who came by helicopter from Kakinada. The twin slogans given by Pawan Kalyan to make his supporters enthusiastic are: “Congress Hatao, Desh Bachao” and “YSRCP Hatao, Seemandhra Bachao”. The audience roared its approval. The younger actor is quite popular in this part of the State. He has been giving full-throated call asking the people to vote for Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu, two politicians known for development agenda.
Murali Mohan is contesting for the second time from Rajahmundry. Last time he lost the election narrowly (just 2,147 votes) in spite of the TDP winning five of the seven Assembly segments. Vundavalli Arun Kumar could make it thanks mainly to cross-voting. He got more votes in some of the Assembly constituencies than the votes polled by Congress candidates. While Vundavalli got 3,57,449 votes Murali Mohan was polled 3,55,302 votes. But then, there was no Modi wave in 2009. If Murali Mohan has to win this election, he has to depend on cross-voting. For this to happen, he needs votes that are inspired by Modi and Pawan Kalyan. Modi described Pawan in Guntur meeting on Thursday as “Power Kalyan”. Murali Mohan is expecting Power Kalyan to deliver votes for him to win the election. Beside two powerful allies and a strong party leader and cadres, another point going in favour of the TDP candidate is relatively new politician, Boddu Venkataramana Chowdary, his main rival contesting on YSRCP ticket. Murali Mohan is confident of winning this time. “The combination of Modi, Babu and Pawan is fantastic and unbeatable”, he said.
The seven Assembly segments in Rajahmundry Lok Sabha constituency are: Rajahmundry-Urban, Rajahmundra-Rural, Anaparthy, Rajanagaram, Kovvuru, Nidadavolu and Gopalapuram. Last three constituencies on in West Godawari. In 2009, Rajahmundry-Rural, Rajanagaram, Kovvuru, Nidadavolu and Gopalapuram were bagged by the TDP. Now the YSRCP appears to be doing well in Anaparthy, Rajahmundry-Rural, Rajahmundry-Urban, Kovvuru and Nidadavolu. Only Gopalapuram and Rajanagaram are showing a tilt towards the TDP.
Murali Mohan would have been more confident of his win had things gone as he planned. Chandrababu Naidu, president of the TDP, was under a lot of pressure to make last minute changes in the selection of candidates. While the YSRCP told its candidates months in advance to work in their respective constituencies and refused to change candidates even when sitting Congress MLAs with better winning chances requested for accommodation, the TDP was making changes till the last minute for the withdrawal of nominations, so to say. Murali Mohan has realised five years ago that he lost because of poor performance of the TDP candidates in Anaparthy and Rajahmundry-Urban. He requested Naidu several times to change the candidates there. Though Moola Reddy won four times from Anaparthy, he lost by a whopping 45,000 votes to Sesha Reddy in 2009. In Rajahmundry-Urban, Butchaiah Chowdary lost for the second time. It was a small margin of 1,184 votes. But he lost in 2004 also. Moreover, there was cross-voting in Rajahmundry-Urban. Vundavalli Arun Kumar got more votes in this constituency than Routhu Suryaprakash, Congress candidate.
Naidu was compelled to give ticket to Nallamalli Ramakrishna Reddy, son of Moola Reddy, to fight for Anaparthy seat. And Butchaiah Chowdary managed to get a B-Form to fight in Rajahmundry-Rural. He tried, in vain, to persuade the BJP candidate in Rajahmundry-Urban Dr Akula Satyanarayana to shift to the rural constituency. The disturbance due to seat-sharing arrangement between the BJP and TDP also had something to do with the confusion in the TDP. Naidu promised Butchaiah Chowdary an MLC seat and a place in the Cabinet. But the doughty politician wanted to fight direct election and get elected to lower house.
Butchaiah’s insistence on fighting for Assembly has unsettled the caste equation carefully planned by Naidu. Before Butchaiah was thought of in Rajahmundry rural constituency, TDP sitting MLA Chandana Ramesh was promised to be fielded again. He was denied ticket. AS he is a BC leader, Murali Mohan fears a BC backlash. In fact, the MP candidate was particular that the rural constituency should be allocated to a BC. He suggested a couple of names besides Ramesh, who won in 2009 by 1,545 votes. Originally TDP ticket was expected to be given to Paruchuri Krishna Rao or Rajabbai (both Kammas) in Peddapuram constituency. Another leader from the same caste, Chittoori Ravindra, former Rajahmundry MP and former Rajanagaram MLA, joined TDP in the presence of Naidu. He was expecting Rajanagarm ticket.
Since Butchaiah Chowdary had to be fielded in Rajahmundry-Rural, the party leadership could not give an opportunity to another Kamma candidate. Therefore, it had to opt for a Kapu in view of YSRCP fielding eight Kapus out of 19 candidates. Pithapuram was another constituency which was affected. Pothula Viswam, who was declared as TDP candidate for Kakinada Lok Sabha seat and then shifted to Peddapuram, was ultimately sent to Pithapuram Assembly constituency since Thota Narasimham, former Congress minister, was awarded with Kakinada MP ticket within days of joining the TDP. There was resistance to Viswam from local TDP leaders. After nominating Nimmakayala Chinna Rajappa in Peddapuram, Viswam had to be moved to Pithapuram where SVSN Varma was already told to work as TDP candidate. Varma is a Raju. He refused to budge and filed nomination as a rebel. This would affect the prospects of the TDP candidate there. This is a chain reaction that could have been avoided had Naidu convinced Butchaiah Chowdary to keep away from contest, say the local TDP leaders.
In spite of all the limitation, there are indications that Murali Mohan might emerge victorious this time albeit with slender margin. There are a couple of reasons for the optimism in the TDP camp. Though Murali Mohan is a non-local, he has been part of Rajahmundry ever since he first contested from here. He has been visiting the constituency frequently. In the last one year, he has been conducting campaign on a regular basis. He is perhaps the only candidate in the State to have campaigned continuously for more than a year before the polling day. Nobody in Rajahmundry Lok Sabha constituency talks about Murali Mohan being non-local. YSRCP candidate Boddu Venkataramana Rao also is non-local. He is from the same district, but his native place falls under Kakinada Lok Sabha constituency. Another reason that goes in Murali Mohan’s favour is that he hails from West Godavari district where there are three constituencies- Kovvuru, Nidadavolu and Gopalapuram- under his Lok Sabha constituency. He is quite familiar with the people of these three constituencies while the YSRCP candidate is new to the people there.
In Kovvoru, sitting TDP MLA TV Rama Rao was denied ticket this time. He was facing a number of allegations about the irregularities in the educational institution he is running at Nidadavolu and some tollgate affairs. Naidu is justified in refusing to field the sitting MLA. But Rama Rao has turned rebel and filed his nomination as independent. Resignation of Krishna Babu, a senior leader and a nephew of Mullapudi Harischandra Prasad, from the TDP and his joining the YSRCP is a great loss for the TDP. It will have its effect on Kovvuru and NIdadavolu constituencies also. In Nidadavolu in particular, the YSRCP candidate Rajeev Krishna is Krishna Babu’s son-in-law.
He is not expected to lose. With five out of seven constituencies not very favourable to the TDP, Murali Mohan today, just like his rival Arun Kumar in 2009, will have to depend on cross-voting to win. He expects those who voted for YSRCP candidates in Assembly constituencies, especially in predominantly urban constituency like Rajahmundry, to vote for him due to Modi effect. If Pawan Kalyan’s glamour fetches some more votes in rural constituencies also, Murali Mohan will be through.