Hyderabad: The stage is set for elections to two graduates’ constituencies of Telagana Legislative Council on Sunday as an intensive campaign came to an end on Friday.
Over 10 lakh graduates in Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahabubnagar and Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda constituencies are eligible to cast their votes.
Elaborate arrangements made
The Election Commission has made elaborate arrangements for the polling which will be held on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Counting of votes will be taken up on March 17.
The polling will be held through ballot papers. A total of 179 candidates are contesting in Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahabubnagar seat while 78 contestants are testing their fortunes in Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda constituency.
The poll authorities have arranged jumbo size ballot boxes in Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahabubnagar in view of large number of contestants.
Number of voters
A total of 5,31,268 graduates are eligible to cast their votes in Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahabubnagar while the number of voters in Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda is 5,05,565.
The number of voters has doubled since the previous election held in 2016.
The poll authorities have set up 1,530 polling centres in the two constituencies. The actual number of polling booths was 1,162 but this number increased after it was decided to have an additional booth in areas where there are over 1,000 voters.
Both the constituencies are witnessing multi-cornered contests. Sitting legislators Ramchander Rao (BJP) and P. Rajeshwar Reddy (TRS) are seeking re-election from Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahabubnagar and Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda seats respectively.
Aiming to check the BJP, ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has fielded former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao’s daughter Vani Devi from Hyderabad-Rangareddy-Mahabubnagar constituency.
The polls are considered significant as the outcome is likely to indicate which way the wind is blowing ahead of the 2023 Assembly polls.
Upbeat over its victory in Dubbak Assembly by-election and the impressive performance in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) polls late last year, the BJP is going all out to retain one seat and wrest the other from TRS.
On the other hand, TRS is using entire force at its disposal to capture both the seats. However, presence of candidates of other parties and some prominent independent contestants has made the battle multi-cornered.
The Congress party, which is making a determined effort to revive its fortunes in the state, has fielded former minister G. Chinna Reddy from Hyderabad-Ranga Reddy-Mahabubnagar and former MLC S. Ramulu Naik from Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda.
In Hyderabad-Ranga Reddy-Mahabubnagar, Professor N. Nageshwar Rao is contesting as an independent candidate. He had represented the seat twice in the past and is considered popular among voters.
Professor M. Kodandaram
The entry of Professor M. Kodandaram of Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) in Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda has made the poll battle interesting.
Kodandaram had played an active role in Telangana statehood movement with Chandrasekhar Rao but parted ways after he was sidelined by the TRS following formation of Telangana as a separate state in 2014. A bitter critic of KCR’s policies, he floated the TJS.
A month-long campaigning saw leaders of major parties engaged in no-holds-barred attacks on each other.
The contestants conducted both offline and online campaign to woo the voters. They organised meetings with various groups of voters like government employees, teachers, lawyers, traders and other professionals to put forward their agenda.
TRS roped in all ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLCs and other elected representatives in 70 Assembly segments spread over the two constituencies to ensure the victory of its candidates.
TRS working president and cabinet minister K. T. Rama Rao led the party campaign by addressing 3-4 meetings every day. He highlighted the achievements of TRS government during last six years.
At every meeting, KTR, as Rama Rao is popularly known, claimed the government provided 1.32 lakh jobs in the government departments. The opposition disputed the claim and leaders of both BJP and Congress challenged him for an open debate.
Realising that a win in MLC polls will brighten its prospects ahead of Assembly polls in 2023, the BJP conducted an intensive campaign in both the constituencies. Party’s central leader incharge of party affairs in the state Tarun Chug addressed several meetings as part of the campaign. The saffron party also roped in union minister for education Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank for a couple of meetings in Hyderabad.
Union minister of state for home G. Kishan Reddy, BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar and other party leaders also participated in the campaign and targetted TRS for its failures on various fronts during last six years.