iconimg Monday, July 06, 2015

Sudipto Mondal, Hindustan Times
Visakhapatnam, May 09, 2014
The placid sea here belies the turbulence deeper inside the coastline in the Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha seat where YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy fielded his mother YS Vijayalakshmi as the party candidate. The run-up to the polls had witnessed hostility between the two principal parties — YSR Congress and BJP.

The BJP, smarting from the low turnout at Narendra Modi’s May 4 rally for candidate and party state president K Hari Babu, accused the YSR Congress of bringing in armed criminals from outside. The police found no evidence, but confirmed the presence of underworld elements in YSR Congress.

On Tuesday, an FIR was lodged against Gandi Babji, YSR Congress MLA candidate for Pendurthi, after he allegedly threatened to murder K Nirmala, a slum-dwelling Dalit leader.

After YSR Congress accused Nirmala of being an agent of the BJP-TDP alliance, the 1,200 slum-dwellers said they opted for NOTA. “We are used to violence from all parties here. We have no political friends, only enemies,” said Venkat Lakshmi, 37.

Apart from weathering the YSR Congress ‘aggression’, BJP has been ploughing its own furrow owing to its ally TDP’s preoccupation with its assembly candidates here. Hari Babu’s reclusive nature and lack of visibility were factors too in Vijayalakshmi being touted as the favourite. Her candidature is said to have impacted YSR Congress’ prospects in neighbouring parliamentary seats as well.

Just when it appeared BJP was down and out, Jai Samaikhyandhra Party candidate Sabbam Hari joined it on Tuesday to raise saffron hopes.