Once a Cong bastion in Puducherry, Yanam to witness a close contest
Hyderabad Yanam, an assembly constituency of the Union Territory of Puducherry, geographically located in Andhra Pradesh, is witnessing an interesting battle in the ongoing elections to the 30-member assembly scheduled to be held on April 6
Hyderabad Yanam, an assembly constituency of the Union Territory of Puducherry, geographically located in Andhra Pradesh, is witnessing an interesting battle in the ongoing elections to the 30-member assembly scheduled to be held on April 6.
The Congress, which has been dominating this 17th century French colony for the last three decades, has virtually disappeared from the political scene with its five-time lawmaker and former health minister Malladi Krishna Rao quitting the party, triggering the collapse of the Narayanswamy government last month.
Rao announced that he won’t be contesting the elections from Yanam again as he wanted to take a break from politics to devote more time to his family.
Interestingly, Rao addressed his supporters at Yanam and declared his support to former chief minister N Rangasamy, founder-president of All India Namathu Rajiyam Congress (AINRC), which has now joined the AIADMK-BJP alliance in Puducherry.
“As a result of Rao’s announcement, all his followers and other Congress functionaries quit the party and joined the AINRC en masse, giving a massive blow to the grand old party. Now, there is no candidate for the Congress to contest the assembly elections from Yanam,” said Ganga Prasad, a local political analyst.
On Wednesday, Rangasamy filed his nominations from Yanam assembly constituency amidst much fanfare. A large number of erstwhile Congress workers and followers of Rao took part in the nomination process. The former CM has already filed his nomination from Thattanchavady constituency in Puducherry.
According to Prasad, more than one-thirds of the total number of 37,747 voters in Yanam, all Telugus, hail from Agnikula Kshatriya (fishermen) community. “Malladi Krishna Rao also belongs to this community and had been winning the elections for the last five terms only because of their vote bank. Now that he has supported Rangasamy, these voters are expected to turn in his favour,” he said.
However, Rangasamy is expected to face a tough challenge from 35-year-old Gollapalli Ashok, who filed his nomination as an independent. Ashok, originally a BJP leader, had been hoping to get the party ticket from Yanam, but with BJP allotting the seat to AINRC as part of alliance, he turned a rebel.
“Ashok represents Kapu community, which is the second largest caste group in Yanam. He is pinning hopes on his caste, besides the anti-Malladi Krishna Rao group in the Congress as well,” he said.
Another independent candidate Pemmadi Durga Prasad is also posing a tough challenge to the main parties. The DMK is yet to announce its candidate in Yanam, Prasad said.
According to Sadanala Babu, a local whose family is of French nationality, said the major issue that plays a major role in the assembly elections in Yanam is lack of employment opportunities for the youth.
“There are no industries, big or small, in this area. The only major industry Regency Ceramics was closed down following worst-ever clashes in January 2012, in which workers killed the factory manager. The youth are forced to migrate to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh towns in search of work. Otherwise, they would have to put up with fishing activity,” Babu said.
For everything, including drinking water to irrigation to electricity supply, Yanam has to depend on Andhra Pradesh, which surrounds this tiny town from all sides. “Even the schools are affiliated to Andhra Pradesh secondary education board and colleges with AP universities. The only advantage is that students of Yanam have a quota in medical and engineering colleges in Puducherry, which are very popular,” Babu said.
According to P Kumar, a vernacular reporter, a section of people in Yanam is of the view that if Puducherry gets the statehood, they would become part of Andhra Pradesh and they would get access to the welfare and developmental programmes of Andhra Pradesh government.
“Many political parties including AINRC and AIADMK have promised Puducherry in the past to fight for its statehood. But majority people from Yanam, including Malladi Krishna Rao, opposed it saying Yanam would lose its identity if it is merged with AP. So, the demand remained only on paper,” Kumar said.