The city of Vijayawada, with its three Legislative Assembly constituencies, is politically significant in the state. The construction of capital Amaravati on the other side of the Krishna river has ensured that the city is progressing rapidly, with multiplexes and skyscrapers coming up in a short time. As the city grows, many have begun pointing out that civic problems related to sanitation, drinking water, the growing pressure on the dumping yard and traffic are urban issues that need to be addressed.
TNM spoke to voters from different walks of life in the constituencies of Vijayawada East, West, and Central, to understand the poll pulse.
The Vijayawada West constituency with more than 2.36 lakh voters is accommodating as many as 10 independent candidates besides the main leaders competing for the seat. A total of 22 candidates including 9 independents are in the electoral race.
Vijayawada West, which has in the past voted for candidates belonging to new parties, such as the Praja Rajyam in 2009 and the YSRCP in 2014, will now see triangular contest. TDP has roped in Shabana Khatun, daughter of sitting MLA Jaleel Khan. Khan defected to TDP in 2017 after winning the seat on a YSRCP ticket in 2014.
“Though he has not done anything here, we will vote for Chandrababu Naidu as we are getting loans and pensions," a woman in her 40s says.
Several residents said that though there are problems like drinking water and drainage issues which remain unsolved, they would vote for TDP as the many of hill slope area dwellers in Bhavanipuram and near Panja centre area got house pattas.
28-year-old Mani Kumar, who is into the textile business, said, "Most of the people who reside on hill slope areas in Bhavanipuram got house pattas, and the government is claiming they will issue the pattas if they are voted back to power. So, obviously people are wants their pattas."
Near Bhavanipuram, several claimed that traffic is the main issue and hope that the long-awaited completion of the Kanaka Durga flyover may put an end to their woes. Ilipili Yugandhar, who runs a juice point near the city’s busy Panja center observes that voters have already decided whom to vote for.
He said, "This time, three parties will be sharing the major part of the votes. I don't think there will be a mass voting in favor of a single candidate. More over independents like Korada Vijay Kumar can actually pick up lots of votes."
A Sandeep, a diploma holder says that the youth like him wants to vote for the JSP candidate but elders are not convinced.
“Elders are thinking that the state will develop only under Naidu's leadership. Among women, schemes like ‘Pasupu Kumkuma’ are a big hit and they will definitely vote for TDP."
JSP’s candidate P Venkata Mahesh is also said to be enjoying the support of the Nagara community.
YSRCP has put up a known face in former MLA Vellampalli Srinivas, who had emerged victorious in 2009 when he contested on a Praja Rajyam ticket. Vellampalli is one of the senior leaders in YSRCP from Vijayawada city and hails from Vaishya community. Vellampalli is hoping that minorities would rally behind them.
The constituency has a total of 2.80 lakh voters and 12 candidates including 2 independents are participating in the poll battle in Vijayawada East. Sitting TDP MLA Gadde Ram Mohan, who is seeking a reelection, has earned the tag of being an accessible politician.
60-year-old Appala Naidu, a fruit vendor in Patamata said, "He is very reachable. He doesn't see any difference between people and he will help out anyone who needs help. For sure, he will win. The opponent candidate doesn’t even have as much visibility as Gadde is a well-known name."
When asked about the issues, locals said that drainage and sanitation were a concern here.
Boppana Bhava Kumar of YSRCP, who got a ticket in the last minute, is playing catch up as far as electioneering goes, having kickstarted his campaign late. On the other hand, Bathina Ramu of JSP is also campaigning in full swing while banking on Pawan Kalyan's image and popularity.
The constituency is known for the predominance of the Kamma community followed by Kapus. While both TDP and YSRCP fielded Kamma candidates, the JSP candidate is from the Kapu community.
Vijayawada Central constituency is currently held by Bonda Uma Maheswara Rao of TDP. In 2014, he won by a margin of over 27,000 votes. The constituency comprises of middle class along with working class settlements whose votes can be a deciding factor.
Malladi Vishnu is contesting from the YSRCP. Vangaveeti Radha Krishna, the son of late Congress MLA and Kapu leader Vangaveeti Ranga, had left the YSRCP and joined the TDP as he was irked by Vishnu getting the ticket.
The JSP alliance has picked Ch Babu Rao of the CPI(M), a well-known figure in the city. A crowd puller, Rao is known for active participation in agitations issues related to people.
Long pending demands in the segment are Rail Over Bridge (ROBs) near Madhura Nagar railway station and widening of Ajith Singh Nagar flyover.
Traffic is a big issue and the roads are riddled with potholes. Sanitation and drainage are also issues in the constituency and locals attribute it to a lack of canal management, as several canals connected to the Krishna river, pass through here.
Three canals Eluru, Raves and Bandaru canals are neglected and government apathy results in indiscriminate dumping of garbage, which often blocks the inlets and outlets, say voters. Though the government has taken up canal beautification project it hasn’t yielded results.
Ajith Singh Nagar residents are demanding that the dumping yard near their colony be shifted as it is causing a lot of health issues.
Nagaraju A, an employee in a jewelry shop in the constituency, says, "Though there are many issues from drainage to drinking water, elections are not really taking place on this basis.”
While TDP is relying on populist schemes that it announced in the run-up to the polls, like 'Pasupu Kunkuma' (cash transfer scheme), which will provide Rs 10,000 along with a smartphone to each woman who is in a self-help group, and loans to women self-help groups along with old-age pensions, YSRCP is trying to bank on anti-incumbency.
65-year-old Gurla Suryanaryana from Gulabithota area, a rikshaw puller, said "They're giving pension to my wife and also gave Rs 5 lakh loan for house construction to our daughter. At least 2000 families were benefited from housing loans. When all these were given, we have to vote for TDP."
S Subbaiah, resident of SN Puram who works in a hotel said, "They promised to give pakka houses for homeless like us but there is no progress in that regard, so many are looking towards YSRCP."