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Tirupati has been the centre of a polarising campaign by the BJP, which has repeatedly accused the YSRCP of hurting Hindu sentiments in the state.

YSRCP leader Maddila GurumoorthyFacebook/ysrcpofficial
news Tirupati Bye-election Sunday, May 02, 2021 - 20:38

YSRCP’s Maddila Gurumoorthy, who has been Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s family physiotherapist for many years, has won the Tirupati Lok Sabha bye-election with a considerable majority. Gurumoorthy defeated TDP candidate Panabaka Lakshmi, a former Union Minister, by 2,71,592 votes. BJP-Jana Sena’s K Ratnaprabha, a retired bureaucrat and former Karnataka Chief Secretary, came in third, polling 5.17% votes. 

The Tirupati constituency, which is home to the Tirumala Venkateswara temple — one of the richest and most visited Hindu temples in the world — has seen a heated campaign over the past few months. The bye-election, held on April 17 following the death of sitting MP YSRCP's Balli Durgaprasad Rao in September 2019, has been preceded by many controversies. 

The BJP-Jana Sena alliance, which had made huge efforts to foray into the state, garnered 5.17% votes. In comparison, in the 2019 election, BJP had managed to get 1.23% of the votes. At the time, the Jana Sena Party was in an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Left parties, and Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan had campaigned for the BSP candidate who got 1.6% votes. 

Ever since the YSRCP government came into power in  2019, Tirupati has been the centre of multiple political controversies in the state. BJP leaders have repeatedly talked about CM Jagan’s faith as he is a Christian and alleged that the YSRCP government had failed to protect Hindu temples and the sentiments of Hindus in the state. Despite the lack of any supporting evidence, the BJP, TDP and Jana Sena Party accused the YSRCP of encouraging forced religious conversions in the state, particularly in Tirupati. 

Read: 

BJP hopes to use Jagan’s faith against him in Andhra, but will it work?

‘I believe in Hindu Sanatana Dharma’: Pawan Kalyan takes anti-conversion stand

Apart from attempting to consolidate Hindu votes, the BJP-Jana Sena alliance also seemed to be trying to appeal to the Kapu community, a dominant caste to which both Pawan Kalyan and Andhra Pradesh BJP president Somu Veerraju belong. 

Also read: Will BJP’s Telangana strategy work in Andhra for Tirupati bye-polls? Experts weigh in

On the day of voting on April 17, both the BJP and TDP alleged that the ruling YSRCP ferried fake voters from outside the constituency to impersonate genuine voters unable to turn up at the polling booths. TDP chief and former CM Chandrababu Naidu wrote to the Election Commission of India, alleging inaction from local election authorities and demanding re-polling in the Tirupati Assembly segment.

Read: TDP, BJP accuse YSRCP of ferrying bogus voters for Tirupati bye-poll

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