Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday approved the candidature of Chinta Mohan, a six-time MP from Tirupati, as the party's candidate for the forthcoming Tirupati Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled on April 17.
"Congress President Sonia Gandhi has approved the candidature of Chinta Mohan as the Congress candidate for the ensuing by-election to the Lok Sabha seat in Tirupati," said Congress General Secretary Mukul Wasnik.
Mohan, a medical doctor, is no novice to the SC seat in Tirupati, having represented it for a record six times. He was first elected from Tirupati in 1984 as a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) candidate, followed by five more stints as an MP from the same constituency, as a Congress representative.
However, the six-time MP's electoral fortunes nosedived along with the Congress party in 2014, thanks to the party's miscalculations and misadventures with the bifurcation of united Andhra Pradesh.
In fact, the 'none of the above option' (NOTA) received more votes than Congress candidate Mohan in 2014 when the party tested its political fortunes after dividing the erstwhile state into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
With the announcement of Mohan's candidature, as many as four political parties have announced their candidates' names.
M. Gurumoorthy is the ruling YSRCP candidate, the TDP has fielded Panabaka Lakshmi, former Karnataka chief secretary Ratna Prabha is the BJP-Janasena nominee, while the Congress has put up Mohan as its candidate.
Lakshmi has already filed her nomination for the bypoll while Gurumoorthy is expected to do the same on Monday.
While the YSRCP is riding high on landslide victories in the recent rural and urban local body polls, the BJP is not helping itself by vowing to privatise the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), depriving special category status to Andhra, besides talking about introducing GST at the Tirupati temple, among other issues.
If Ratna Prabha garners more votes than Lakshmi, it may indicate some shifting patterns of political affiliations in the southern state.
It will also force some fundamental questions on TDP, which currently is considered to be the principal opposition party in the state.
Likewise, if the ruling YSRCP wins the Parliamentary seat, it can be seen as an approval of Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and his welfare plank of governance.