Andhra Pradesh polls: YSRCP fields women to tackle three TDP strongholds

Despite initial speculation that YSRCP nominated the women debutants in TDP strongholds expecting defeat, it is now being seen as a strategy to win over women voters, who are the primary beneficiaries of YSRCP's schemes.
YSRCP candidates (left to right)- Piriya Vijaya, M Lavanya, TN Deepika
YSRCP candidates (left to right)- Piriya Vijaya, M Lavanya, TN Deepika Facebook
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In a purported move to defeat strong opponents in the Telugu Desam Party bastions, YSR Congress Party president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy set aside senior leaders and fielded three debutante woman candidates — M Lavanya in Mangalagiri, which is perhaps the most unexpected nomination, Piriya Vijaya in Ichchapuram, and TN Deepika in Hindupur. 

Despite initial speculation that the ruling party nominated the women debutants in the TDP strongholds expecting a definitive loss, YSRCP leaders have reiterated that the seats were allocated based on the calibre of the candidates. According to YSRCP spokesperson Vasireddy Padma, “Such statements are made by people who do not believe in the strength of women. It is insecure and inferior male leaders who question women’s politician’s calibre.” She added that the party has given women 50% representation in local body elections and is dedicated to building strong women leaders. 

Senior journalist and political analyst CH Anjaneyulu said that women candidates were promoted as a social engineering strategy to win over women voters, who are primarily the beneficiaries of YSRCP's programmes. "It is important for the opponents to exercise caution when attacking the women candidates," he noted. 

According to a TDP leader who wished to remain anonymous, CM Jagan is the only target of the party's campaign attacks in these constituencies. He said that the party does not wish to attract further criticism for attacking Jagan’s “sisters”, as the CM calls them.


In 2019, Alla Ramakrishna Reddy of the YSRCP won Mangalagiri constituency after defeating TDP’s national secretary Nara Lokesh by a margin of 5700 votes. After learning that he would not be given a ticket for re-election, Alla Ramakrishna Reddy left the YSRCP in December 2023, and Ganji Chiranjeevi, a former TDP member who joined the YSRCP, was expected to be nominated. Chiranjeevi belongs to the Padmashali caste, a Backward Caste (BC) community that is the majority in the constituency. CM Jagan, however, gave the seat to M Lavanya, who is also a Padmashali by caste. 

Even though this is the first time she is contesting elections, Lavanya has a political background and commendable local support. The Mangalagiri constituency was won by her mother Kandru Kamala in the state Assembly elections in 2004. Hanumantha Rao, her father-in-law, is a YSRCP MLC from Guntur. 

Nara Lokesh, who is the son of TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, is contesting yet again from the constituency on a TDP ticket. 

According to political analyst Nageshwar Rao, it is wrong to assume that all BCs would vote for Lavanya. “Whether the choice will yield results or not can be said only after the results. But Nara Lokesh has more advantage due to the anti-incumbency factor,” he told TNM. Despite his defeat in 2019, Lokesh has remained active in Mangalagiri and also has the support of the Kamma community, a dominant caste in the constituency, which is a traditional vote bank of the TDP. Many political observers believe that he may also be able to garner sympathy votes for being proactive despite the burden of his previous defeat.


Ever since the 1985 Assembly election in which TDP founder NT Ramarao contested from Hindupur and become the Chief Minister, the constituency has been a bastion of the party. CM Jagan, as part of his aggressive plan to win all 175 Assembly seats in the state, known as "Mission 175,” had started announcing his candidatures in TDP strongholds nearly a year and half before elections, and Hindupur is one of them.

Contesting on a TDP ticket from the southernmost Hindupur constituency is Nandamuri Balakrishna, senior TDP leader and Nara Lokesh’s father-in-law. He will face YSRCP’s debutante TN Deepika. 

In August of 2023, Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy, the state Minister for Energy, announced Deepika's nomination. She belongs to the Kuraba community, categorised as BC. Her husband Konduru Venugopal is a businessman, YSRCP leader, and a member of the dominant Reddy caste. 

Political analysts believe that her nomination is a calculated move, as she stands to gain votes from the Reddy and Kuraba communities, as well as from the other numerically dominant but marginalised castes like the Boya/Valmikis, Muslims, and Scheduled Castes who have benefited from YSRCP’s Direct Benefit Transfer schemes. 


Ichchapuram, on the northern coast of Srikakulam district, is also a border constituency like Hindupur. It has been a TDP stronghold since 1983, except in 2004, when Congress’s YS Rajasekhar Reddy won from there and went on to become chief minister.

It is one of the state's most underprivileged constituencies, dominated by the Reddika and Yadava castes (both BC), followed by several BC subcastes that are specific to the Srikakulam district like Kalinga and Palli.

In Ichchapuram, YSRCP’s Piriya Vijaya will face Bendalam Ashok, who is aiming for a hat-trick victory. Vijaya served as Srikakulam's territorial constituency chairman of the Zilla Parishad, and her husband Piriya Sairaj was defeated by Ashok in the 2019 Assembly elections. While Ashok belongs to the Kalinga community, Vijaya belongs to the Surya Balija community. According to local reports, lack of infrastructure and development in the constituency are key election issues that have weightage for the voters.

Meanwhile, many in Andhra Pradesh are closely following the Pithapuram constituency, where Janasena Party leader Pawan Kalyan will mark his debut. His opponent, YSRCP’s Vanga Geetha, is a senior politician who began her political career as a Zilla Parishad chairperson and eventually rose to become a member of the Lok Sabha, representing the Kakinada constituency. Both belong to the Kapu community.

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