iconimg Monday, May 04, 2015

Prasad Nichenametla , Hindustan Times
Anantapur, May 06, 2014
The rains lashing the 13 Seemandhra districts during the past few days stopped on Monday evening. And the 36.7 million voters, flooded with poll promises, are now warming up to caste votes on Wednesday to 175 assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha in Anantapur. For two politicians — Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy — these are the most crucial elections. One is out of power for 10 years and the other wants to grab power for the first time. And both are vying for the Seemandhra CM’s chair.

The Congress has relegated itself to nowhere with its decision to bifurcate the state. The former CM Kiran Reddy’s plan to float a new party also did not work out well.

Naidu, described often as a reformer and visionary, is not shy to shed that image now, promising several welfare measures, such as waiver of loans for farmers and women, nine-hour free power for farming, job for every family or stipend for the unemployed and 1.5 lakh houses for the poor.

Also, to represent the two major caste groups of the region — the backwards and the Kapus — he promised to create two deputy CM positions.

Earlier, Naidu ridiculed some of these measures, especially free power. He said if power was given free, it would never be there for use and “then we can hang clothes on electric wires”.

But his development promises — hardware hubs, IT corridors, world class airports and hospitals — outwitted Jagan, who went on telling people that Naidu was known as one who always changes stands and breaks promises. He termed the polls as a fight between honest and deceitful politics.

Jagan, too, went on an assurance spree — five signatures on five files on pro-poor schemes, he said, would bring in a bright future for them, besides six developmental projects  that would change the face of the state.

Both want a lion’s share of the 25 Lok Sabha seats and play a role in national politics. Naidu has already joined the NDA  and has campaigned along with BJP’s PM candidate, Narendra Modi. The buzz is: Jagan could also support the BJP, if it comes to power.