The cratered roads elsewhere in Rayalaseema become four-lane superhighways as one approaches Pulivendula, a small town in Kadapa now known as YSR Kadapa district.
All corners of the town are adorned with grand statues of YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who died in a helicopter crash in September 2009, three months after he was sworn in for the second time as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.
Whatever Pulivendula sports — industrial park, dairy cooling units, veterinary research institute, engineering college, IIIT and polytechnics — bears the stamp of YSR.
The town also has drinking water and proper drainage. Uranium Corporation of India has set up a plant in the vicinity. And a Rs 2,500 crore lift irrigation project is expected to energise 2.2 lakh acres of parched but fertile lands.
“YSR was passionate about Pulivendula. He used to tell us we should have whatever Hyderabad has,” MT Krishna Babu, the district collector during YSR’s tenure, tells HT.
The prosperity here is apparent from villas, similar to those in posh localities of Hyderabad. But detractors say the prosperity is limited to a few close to the YSR family, who benefitted mainly through government contracts.
Pulivendula, arguably the most popular assembly seat in the state, has been with the family since 1978 with YSR representing it six times. His son, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who set up YSR Congress, contested the seat this time.
Locals say Jaganmohan’s victory is inevitable. So they are betting on his chances of becoming the chief minister of Seemandhra and improving growth.
“I have put my money on the possibility of his winning by over 80,000 votes,” says Srinivasulu Reddy, a farmer.
YSR’s widow YS Vijayamma won with more than 80,000 votes in the 2011 by-polls held after the family exited from the Congress. But analysts are sceptical of a repeat since the sympathy factor – after YSR’s death – has waned.