The ever-buzzing Gajuwaka locality in the port city of Vizag is the centre of intense political activity. Actor Pawan Kalyan is contesting from this assembly constituency. Actor and TDP MLA Balakrishna participated in a road show on Saturday. YSRCP President Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy is holding a public meeting on Sunday. A stroll on the main road and random conversations with locals will tell you that “AP CM Chandrababu Naidu mysteriously decided to skip canvassing here”. The constituency with densely populated voters (more than 3 lakh) is suddenly in the limelight ever since Jana Sena President Pawan Kalyan decided to contest from here.
Voters in this industrial cum residential area are also well aware of what is happening around them.
Conversations here start or end almost always with two lines―“Pawan Kalyan will lose” or “ Pawan Kalyan will win.”
At Sudha hotel junction, two youngsters, L. Ramesh and N. Kiran, wait at a tea stall for their daily fix. “Who can win against Powerstar Pawan Kalyan? Even though I am ready to bet, I can’t find anyone who thinks he will lose,” says one of them. Clearly, they are hardcore fans of the actor. Immediately after they leave, the tea stall owner says, “Only young people like them will vote for Pawan Kalyan. Anyone who is mature and above 30 will not support him. He doesn't stand a chance.”
Across the street, a lady, who works in a clothing store, doesn’t seem very confident about who to vote. “I like him as an actor but I am not sure if he will be a good MLA,” said 40-year-old Sharada.
A number of people who in the constituency, surprisingly, have one doubt. Will he be accessible if we help him win? This thought, to an extent, might have been the result of a systematic campaign unleashed by local leaders of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).
It is learnt that during door-to-door campaigning, the party workers are urging people to rethink on their decision to vote for the actor. “If you have a small problem, will you go all the way to Hyderabad to complain?” This is what is being told to voters. At a recent meeting in a residential colony in the constituency, YSRCP leaders felt that once he wins the elections, Pawan will go back to acting and this would make it impossible to reach him during shoots.
Aware of the damage being caused, Jana Sena party leaders are trying their best to tell people that he has house on rent and he will be present in the constituency to solve people’s issues. But these assurances don’t seem to have made much difference.
“When his name was announced, everyone thought he had already won the election. But, in the last few days, people are not overwhelmingly supporting him. It should worry him that fewer crowds are coming to see him when compared to the initial days. People seem to be thinking that at the end of the day they want to vote for a candidate who is easy to contact and responds immediately,” said a police constable posted in the area.
In Bhimavaram, too, where he filed his nomination as an assembly candidate, he is facing the same negative campaign. His opponents have taken to social media to spoil his chances. On Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms, it is being conveyed to people that Pawan Kalyan is a non-local who will not be available to the people easily. Some of these posts are being widely circulated.
“These posts have made a lot of difference. Pawan has to work really hard to convince the voters to vote for him or it wont be easy,” said T. Vasanth, a local businessman.