Election scene hots up in Tirupati

 thehindu.com  11/22/2020 11:07:47 

Even before the Election Commission has announced the model code for by-election to the Tirupati (SC) Lok Sabha constituency, political heat is quite palpable in all the camps.

The YSR Congress and TDP have tentatively announced their candidates, while the national parties are adopting a wait-and-watch policy. The election was necessitated by the demise of YSRC MP Balli Durgaprasad, but instead of pitting his kin to ride on the 'sympathy wave', the party has almost finalised the name of Guru Murthy, a native of Yerpedu mandal in Srikalahasti Assembly segment and a physiotherapist by profession.

An alumnus of SVIMS University, Dr. Guru Murthy practised at a local private hospital before accompanying party president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy during his State-wide Praja Yatra and extended continuous physiotherapy support.

The TDP has named former union minister Panabaka Lakshmi, who contested in vain in the 2019 general elections. The party, apart from forming a parliamentary level committee, is busy identifying 89 observers for the 50 divisions in Tirupati Corporation and the 39 mandals spread across the LS constituency.

"We are opening an office shortly and will also name observers in charge of the seven Assembly segments soon, the TDP's Tirupati parliamentary constituency in-charge G. Narasimha Yadav told The Hindu. Though Ms. Lakshmi has not reached Tirupati yet, she is learnt to be renting a house to stay locally.

Keen on making an impact, the BJP hopes to replicate 1998 example when its candidate N. Venkataswamy, a retired IAS officer, won the Tirupati LS seat, albeit in alliance with the TDP. This time too, the name of a retired bureaucrat with RSS background is making rounds in the party circles as the likely candidate. The Congress keeps its cards close to the chest, but the previous incumbent and CWC member Dr. Chinta Mohan appears to be the natural choice.

However, all the parties are wary of the Covid-19 situation and the candidates are expressing fear of traveling to the countryside. The other major factor that is being widely discussed among the probables is the huge money required to be coughed up in less than two years of spending a fortune in the 2019 elections.

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