It’s going to be an interesting fight between a veteran tribal leader and his daughter in Araku Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh.
The father is a seasoned politician and former union minister Vyricherla Kishore Chandra Suryanarayana Deo, who is contesting as a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) candidate while his daughter, New Delhi-based lawyer and social activist V Shruti Devi, has been fielded by the Congress party.
A six-time Parliamentarian and one of the most prominent tribal faces of the Congress, Deo ended his long association with the party last month to join the TDP.
The 72-year-old is one of the tallest leaders of north coastal Andhra, where many politicians come from the families of erstwhile rulers of the region.
Belonging to the royal tribal family of Kurupam in Vizianagaram district, Deo is popular as a “gentleman politician’. ‘Raja of Kurupam’, as he is called, is soft-spoken and belongs to the old- school of politicians.
Known for his erudition, Deo enjoys good public support in Araku, a constituency reserved for tribals.
A graduate in economics and post-graduate in political science, he was first elected to Lok Sabha in 1977 from Parvathipuram and was re-elected in 1980, 1984 and 2004.
Deo, who began his political career with the Congress, was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1977. When there was split in the party, he went with Congress (S). He served as Minister of State for Steel, Mines and Coal in the Charan Singh government in 1979.
He returned to Congress in 1993 at the invitation of then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. He was made a Rajya Sabha member in 1994.
After two decades, he was elected to Lok Sabha in 2004 and was made a member of the Congress Working Committee in 2007.
Following delimitation, Parvathipuram constituency became Araku and he won it from here in 2009.
In 2011, he became the Minister for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj in the Manmohan Singh cabinet.
However, Deo lost from Araku in 2014, finishing a distant third as the Congress drew a blank in the state facing severe backlash over bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
Unhappy with the manner in which the Congress was functioning in the state, he finally quit the party and joined the TDP, which is now banking on his popularity to win the seat.
He will be facing a tough contest against his daughter and Congress candidate. Shruti, who studied environmental law, actively campaigned for her father during last three elections. She had long been planning to contest from Araku on a Congress ticket.
Shruti, also a writer, had exuded confidence she will win with a huge margin, irrespective of whoever pitted against her by the other parties.
She joined the Congress in 1998 and ensured her father’s victory in Lok Sabha elections after 20 years in 2004, according to information available on her website.
She again played a key role in her father’s win in 2009. During the campaigning she participated in the rallies and meetings held to oppose bauxite mining in tribal areas.
In 2014, Kothapalli Geetha of the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) had won from Araku but later defected to TDP. She has now floated a party and plans to enter the fray.
YSRCP has this time fielded Goddeti Madhavi, daughter of former MLA Goddeti Demudu of the Communist Party of India. Madhavi works as physical education teacher in a tribal welfare school.
Jana Sena party of actor Pawan Kalyan has announced Pangi Raja Rao as its candidate for Araku.