Even as many panchayats in Chittoor district have gone for unanimous elections, all the 86 panchayats in Kuppam, the home constituency of TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, are going to the polls on February 17.
During the last one and a half years, Panchayat Raj Minister Peddireddi Ramachandra Reddy has paid half a dozen visits to Kuppam and boosted the morale of the YSRCP cadres. The TDP cadres too have galvanised themselves in advance and are leaving no stone unturned to face the elections. Nominations have been filed in all 86 panchayats.
In contrast, the panchayats in five mandals in Punganur Assembly constituency, which is considered the fortress of Mr. Ramachandra Reddy, have gone for unanimous elections. After filing the nominations, the campaign by the TDP-supported candidates took the backseat, while their opponents covered panchayats after panchayats.
A senior TDP leader observed that filing of cases against a close associate of Mr. Naidu in Kuppam demoralised the cadres. The lower-rung functionaries of the party maintained that though they had been toiled for the last 20 months after the debacle in 2019 general elections, there was no encouragement from the higher echelon of the party.
“However, we have stood by the party till now and no panchayat went for unanimous poll,” said a senior party leader in Shantipuram mandal.
Mr. Naidu won Kuppam with a margin of over 30,000 votes in 2019 elections when compared to the 48,000 in 2014. The TDP cadres admit that they are not sure of a big win in the panchayat polls.
Meanwhile, the YSRCP camp is confident of a majority in the panchayat elections in the constituency. Three days prior to the polls, Mr. Ramachandra Reddy, during his tour to the constituency, claimed that the YSRCP supported candidates would sweep the polls. The disappointment among the TDP cadres is visible that no prominent leader from the party has paid a visit to the area yet.