Machilipatnam Lok Sabha constituency: Fishing for votes to shore up power
Caste and development are two key factors which influence how Machilipatnam votes.
Machilipatnam is one of 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Andhra Pradesh. It has over 13 lakh voters and has seven Assembly segments - Machilipatnam, Pedana, Gudivada Gannavaram, Penamaluru, Pamarru and Avanigadda.
One of the most significant factors at play in Machilipatnam constituency is the presence of over 2 lakh electors belonging to the Kapu community who have long demanded OBC status. Caste, therefore, plays a very important role in how Machilipatnam votes.
Another key issue here was that of Machilipatnam deepwater port. Work on the port was long overdue but in February, CM Chandrababu Naidu finally laid the foundation stone for the project which spreads over 4,800 acres. Once completed, it is expected to provide jobs to 80,000 people.
Other issues like access to clean drinking water, irrigation and improved drainage systems are also of vital significance here.
In the previous Lok Sabha election, it was expected that TDP and YSRCP would engage in a close fight. In the end, TDP's Konakalla Narayana Rao (587,280 votes) defeated YSRCP's Kolusu Partha Sarathy (506,223 votes). Congress' Sistla Ramesh could only manage 14,111 votes. This was a poor reflection on how the party had traditionally fared here - winning the Lok Sabha elections in 1959, 1967, 1971, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1998 and 2004.
In 2014, the voter turnout here was 83.48 per cent while Andhra Pradesh witnessed an overall turnout of 74.47 per cent.
This year, TDP is expected to repeatedly use the issue of the port to highlight its achievements in Machilipatnam even as YSRCP has already begun to point at the shortcomings of the state government. The BJP too does not want to be left behind and national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao has been updating farmers here about the central government's schemes.