Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency, a battlefield for two brothers

While Srinivas is a seasoned transport tycoon-turned-politician, his brother Sivanath is trying his electoral luck for the first time.


Published May 12, 2024 | 12:38 PMUpdatedMay 12, 2024 | 12:38 PM

Ambedkar statue in Vijayawada. (Supplied)

By Sharon Thambala

The Vijayawada Parliamentary constituency has emerged as the battleground between brothers K Srinivas of Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSRCP and K Sivanath, candidate of the main Opposition TDP in the 13 May Lok Sabha polls.

While Srinivas is a seasoned transport tycoon-turned-politician, his younger brother Sivanath, also a businessman, is trying his electoral luck for the first time.

Srinivas (58), the older brother, was a key TDP leader until some months ago but differences with some party leaders at the local and state level compelled him to jump ship to the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSRCP in January, according to his supporters.

One of the main reasons attributed to the exit of Srinivas from TDP was the party’s decision to replace him with Sivanath as the candidate for the Lok Sabha election. Popularly known as Kesineni Nani and the owner of the now defunct Kesineni travels company, Srinivas, a Parliamentarian for nearly a decade, had also resigned as an MP when he quit the TDP.

Vijayawada Lok Sabha constituency encompasses the Assembly constituencies of Tiruvuru (SC), Vijayawada West, Vijayawada Central, Vijayawada East, Mylavaram, Nandigama (SC) and Jaggayyapeta.

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The 2019 election

In the 2019 election, Srinivas secured 5.75 lakh votes, trouncing his YSRCP rival PV Prasad, who secured 5.66 lakh votes while Janasena’s M Prasad Babu got 81,650 votes.

Srinivas’s poll plank was the “dedication of his life for the city of Vijayawada,” located in the heart of the southern state and also a major commercial centre.

As a two-time MP, Srinivas did manage to gain some goodwill, said a 70-year-old local resident, K Tata Rao, who regularly spends his evenings on Bandar Road to relax over a cup of tea with friends.

“Kesineni Nani (Srinivas) developed flyovers in the city. Kanakadurgamma flyover and a flyover near the Benz Circle. He did a good job, he will come next time as well,” Rao told PTI.

However, he termed Sivanath’s contest against his brother as a “selfish move.”

The younger Kesineni brother is testing the political waters and lacks the experience possessed by his older brother. Beyond the sibling rivalry, Rao, a retired government employee, said he and other common people were more worried about the fate suffered by the southern state due to what he described as the “apathy” of the BJP-led Central Government.

He alleged that right from 2014 when Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated, the Central Government did not do anything worthwhile to the residual state.

‘What good did they do?’

“What did the Congress government do at that time, it said they would give special category status (SCS) for 10 years and the BJP also supported it. BJP came to power and said SCS is a closed chapter. Ten years have passed by and what good did BJP do to Andhra Pradesh?” he asked.

Rao reminded that the prime minister had promised SCS “at the feet of Sri Venkateswara Swamy in Tirupati” in the run-up to the 2014 polls and yet he broke his promise.

Though the southern state is contributing thousands of crores of rupees worth GST, Rao said the Narendra Modi-led Centre is not “returning its rightful share” of tax revenues.

In all issues concerning Andhra Pradesh including the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant privatisation issue, which is opposed by people, Rao claimed the BJP government has done “immense injustice” and continues to do it.

In matters such as prices of cooking gas and fuel, the Centre has not rendered justice to the people, he said.

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‘Andhra lacks leaders’

K Naga Brahmayya (33), a worker from the Ranigarithota area, who loads and unloads flour sacks from a wholesale shop for onward shipment to kirana (grocery) stores across the city, lamented that Andhra Pradesh lacks leaders who could fight and secure the SCS.

“Jagan talks many things here in the state but not in the presence of Modi. He cannot repeat all the things that he talks with people in the presence of Modi. Modi does not need YSRCP’s 22 MPs,” said Brahmayya.

Commenting on the Polavaram Project, a multi-purpose major irrigation initiative, the daily wager said it is in a sorry state and added that successive governments failed to complete it.

Simultaneous elections for the 25 Lok Sabha seats and 175 Assembly constituencies in the southern state will be held on 13 May and the results will be declared on 4 June.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)