After high-voltage campaign, Telangana set for Assembly poll

Electronic Voting Machine in India Photograph:( WION )

PTI Hyderabad, Telangana, India Dec 06, 2018, 09.12 PM (IST)

After a high-voltage campaign that saw war of words among contending parties, Telangana is set for Assembly polls on Friday with the Congress-led alliance challenging the ruling TRS, and the BJP seeking to make it a triangular contest.

More than 1.50 lakh polling officials including reserve staff are in the process of giving final touches Thursday to make the election to the 119-member House a smooth affair.

Over 2.80 crore electorate are eligible to exercise their franchise in the State, which has a total of 32,815 polling stations across.Campaigning by political parties came to an end at 5 pm Wednesday.

Additional DG ( Law and order) Jitender Thursday told PTI that about one lakh police personnel including 25,000 central paramilitary forces and 20,000 from other states are engaged in poll duties.

A senior police official said security was beefed up at bordering areas which were identified as Left Wing Extremist-affected regions.

The assembly polls in Telangana were originally scheduled to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections next year, but the House was dissolved on September 6 as per a recommendation by the state cabinet.

It is to be seen if KCR's gamble to opt for early elections pays off.

The Congress has stitched together "Prajakutami" (People's Front) along with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS) and the CPI to take on the ruling TRS, led by caretaker Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR).

The TRS, seeking a second term in office, is going alone, as also the BJP.
While KCR was, without doubt, the star campaigner for TRS, the Congress and the BJP fielded their bigwigs for campaigning which turned out to be a shrill one.

For the Congress, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the party President Rahul Gandhi addressed election rallies.

The BJP relied on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party President Amit Shah.

Gandhi also addressed a joint meeting with TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

"We will win 100 seats", KCR repeatedly said in campaign meetings.
Rahul Gandhi said Wednesday the Congress-led alliance is confident of winning the elections "hands-down" and claimed that KCR was showing "signs of nervousness and insecurity" in recent campaign meetings he addressed.

The BJP, which won five seats in alliance with the TDP in the last elections in 2014, said it ensured that there is a triangular fight in Telangana this time.

"Earlier, when the election season began, it was projected by both the Congress and TRS as if the fight is between them but it was a propaganda," Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao told PTI.

Vigorous campaign by BJP's national and state leaders ensured that it has become a "triangular contest where nobody can actually say who is winning and how many seats," Rao said.

Meanwhile, Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar in a press conference said, "Some political parties expressed apprehensions that there was the distribution of liquor and money in some places.

We gave strict instructions to police and other officials to deal with such incidents sternly."

"Distribution of voters' slips was done 100 per cent," he said.Polling will start at 7 am and end at 5 pm, while in 13 constituencies which were classified as Left Wing Extremist-affected, polling ends one hour before (4 pm).

As many as 446 flying squads are in operation in the state to swing into action if any irregularity is reported during the elections and 448 static surveillance teams would also keep a watch on the situation and would wait in wings to take action, Kumar said.

Besides, 224 video-surveillance teams and 133 video-viewing teams have been pressed into service.

There are 126 assistant expenditure observers and 123 accounting teams.For the first time, Election Commission is using Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in Telangana.

As many as 1,821 candidates including a transgender are in the fray in the election.

Counting of votes would be taken up on December 11.

Huge sums of unaccounted cash and illegal liquor and other goods were seized since the Model Code of Conduct came into effect on September 27.

As per the last count, the total seizures stood at nearly Rs 135 crore including unaccounted cash, illegal liquor and other goods, Rajat Kumar said adding that the total seizures were 90 per cent more than that of during 2014 polls.

Story highlights

Over 2.80 crore electorate are eligible to exercise their franchise in the State, which has a total of 32,815 polling stations across. Campaigning by political parties came to an end at 5 pm Wednesday.