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Andhra Pradesh elections: Chandrababu Naidu's son Nara Lokesh faces tough poll debut


Mangalagiri, Apr 5: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu's son Nara Lokesh may face a tough electoral debut as the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has never won from this weavers-dominated constituency in Guntur district since 1985 and rival YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) is leaving no stone unturned.

Nara Lokesh

However, the popularity of welfare schemes like Pasupu Kumkuma Scheme under which Rs 10,000 cash and smartphones are given to self-help groups (SHGs), NTR Bharosa Pension for the needy and vulnerable people, and unemployment allowance scheme as well as the mega Polavaram project and development of basic infrastructure are likely to work in favour of 36-year-old Lokesh, say observers.

Lokesh, grandson of Telugu icon and star-turned-politician N T Rama Rao, says he chose the Mangalagiri assembly constituency for his electoral debut to set a "trend in politics". The area is famous for its Mangalagiri cotton sarees.

"The TDP never won this constituency since 1985 because of coalition. We always lost it to our partners. That is the reason I am contesting from here. I have plunged into deep sea in order to set trends in Indian politics," he told PTI.

[Telangana polls: Naidu's strategy to even out differences between the Nara-Nandamuri families]

With an electorate of 2,68,429 lakh, Mangalagiri has predominantly backward communities population, especially weavers community (Padmashali) and Muslims. Both Lokesh (Kamma) and YSRCP candidate (Reddy) have upper caste identity. It's a two-way fight between Lokesh and YSRCP's sitting MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy. In 2014, Reddy had defeated TDP's candidate Ganji Chiranjeevi, a Padmashali, by a mere 12 votes. Hoping to open TDP's account in the constituency after more than three decades, Lokesh -- formally inducted into TDP in May 2013 and who worked on the election strategy for 2014 general elections, said he is fully confident of routing the YSRCP.

"Three things will play in favour of TDP. One is welfare schemes, second is infrastructure development like drainage, roads and urban housing and the third one is 3 lakh jobs generated in private sector," he claimed. He said the the Polavaram irrigation project will also add up. One of the voters, Y Rajalakshmi -- an housewife -- living in the ST colony of Emani village in Guddiryala mandal, says, "Lokesh is son of the CM, we expect he will also work like his father," highlighting the works done by the TDP in the colony that include laying of cement roads and replacing streets lights with LEDs and improved drainage.

Shaktinarayan, a 51-year-old farmer, claims the people of Emani mandal have always voted for Congress but the party did no work here. A graduate Keshav Rao feels Jagan should be given a chance as his father has worked as chief minister of united Andhra. YSRCP's candidate Reddy is a popular leader in the constituency and is confident of getting re-elected.

[Stay up to date with our election coverage here]

He is banking on popularity of his party chief Y S Jagan Reddy and strength of the cadres. The TDP has won this seat twice in 1983 and 1985. Elections to 175 assembly and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Andhra Pradesh will be held simultaneously on April 11.


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