Andhra Pradesh chief minister and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu retained most of the sitting MLAs and inducted 20 new faces in the first list of candidates for 126 assembly seats late on Thursday amid protests by rival groups within the party.
Andhra Pradesh with 175 assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats will go to polls on April 11. The votes will be counted on May 23.
The Telegu Desam party with 102 seats, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) four, YSRC 67 and two Independents constituted the first assembly of the successor state of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. The TDP sent 15 members, BJP two and YSRC eight to Parliament from the state in the elections held along with the state polls that year.
The chief minister’s residence at Undavalli witnessed a flurry of activity and series of protests by party workers either seeking tickets for their leaders or opposing tickets for rival groups in the run-up to the release of the list.
Almost all the ministers got the tickets, barring a few who are either being fielded in the Lok Sabha elections or have preferred being replaced by their children.
Dalit minister KS Jawahar, who hold the excise portfolio, was shunted out of his native Kovuru in West Godavari to contest from Tiruvuru in Krishna district in the wake of mounting opposition within the ruling party over his presence in his home constituency.
Women and child welfare minister Paritala Sunitha opted voluntary retirement from electoral politics to make way her son Sri Ram from her native Rapthadu. Deputy chief minister KE Krishnamurthy chose to stay out of the fray in Pattikonda this time enabling the entry of his son Syam Babu as his heir apparent.
Forests and environment minister Siddha Raghava Rao and marketing minister C Adinarayana Reddy, who hold the Darsi and Jammalamadugu segments in Prakasam and Kadapa districts respectively, were nominated as Lok Sabha candidates in Ongole and Kadapa.
Three ministers from the legislative council - Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh (IT and panchayat raj), P Narayana (municipal administration) and Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy (agriculture) - took a plunge into direct elections. Lokesh has been fielded in Mangalagiri under which capital falls.
Around 20 sitting MLAs, mostly in the reserved segments, were replaced by fresh faces. A few of the new entrants are relatives of state ministers and sitting lawmakers.
Backward Classes got 30 seats while Kammas and Reddys 32 and 22 respectively in the first list.
Some leaders within the TDP such as party Lok Sabha member JC Diwakar Reddy have said earlier that the party will find the going tough in the elections unless more than 40% of the sitting MLAs were replaced. Reddy said many legislators from the ruling party have become unpopular in their constituencies and alienated from people, stoking anti-incumbency.
Political analyst T Lakshminarayana said the Naidu’s first list looked like the one released by his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao, who successfully faced the state election in December last year with old faces.
“KCR (as Rao is popularly called) led his party to power with a landslide victory by taking the sitting MLAs on board dispelling the notions suggesting anti-incumbency might upset his apple cart. It is to be seen whether Naidu will take a leaf from KCR’s book and return to power or allow the perceived anti-incumbency to scuttle his come-back plans,” Lakshminarayana said.
Naidu told reporters that the candidates for Lok Sabha seats will be announced on Friday.
Yuvajana Sramika Rytu Congress (YSRC) chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy is expected to release the first list of his party’s candidates at Idupulapaya in Kadapa district on March 16 before he embarks on a bus yatra, a campaign-on-wheels in the state.
Jana Sena leader and actor Pawan Kalyan released a list of candidates for 32 assembly seats in the first phase at a party foundation programme in Rajahmundry on Thursday evening. It failed to clear the ambiguity over the presence of Kalyan in the election fray.
Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president N Raghuveera Reddy said his party has completed the exercise of the selection of candidates for all the 175 assembly segments and 25 Lok Sabha seats. The lists will be announced after clearance by party president Rahul Gandhi by Friday evening, he said.
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First Published: Mar 15, 2019 10:39 IST