Stage set for first elections in Telangana
The stage is set for the first phase of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Andhra Pradesh assembly Wednesday in the Telangana region, which becomes a full-fledged state in June.
As many as 28.1 million people are eligible to votes in 119 assembly and 17 Lok Sabha constituencies spread over 10 districts of Telangana, which is witnessing the first election after the bill for separate statehood to the region was passed in parliament. As Telangana will formally become a separate state June 2, the Election Commission is holding the polls in undivided Andhra Pradesh, which is now under President's rule.
After the formation date, the elected legislators will be allotted to their respective states - Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Elections to 175 assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in Seemandhra or the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh are scheduled May 7.
For the first phase, 265 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha polls and 1,669 in assembly constituencies.
According to state chief electoral officer Bhanwarlal, polling will take place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. except in 11 Maoist affected assembly constituencies where the polling will end at 4.
Malkajgiri and Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituencies have the highest number of candidates while there are only six contestants in Nagarkurnool.
Among assembly constituencies, Amberpet constituency in Hyderabad has 32 candidates while five each are contesting in Boath and Andole.
Telangana is witnessing a triangular contest involving the Congress, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Telugu Desam Party (TDP) combine.
The main fight is between the TRS and Congress. Though the YSR Congress party has fielded candidates in most places, the party doesn't seem to have much presence due to its opposition to Telangana.
The TDP, which has returned to the NDA after 10 years but is facing a tough test due to its leader Chandrababu Naidu's ambiguous stand on Telangana, has left 47 assembly and eight Lok Sabha seats for the BJP.
The Congress has left eight assembly and one Lok Sabha seat for the Communist Party of India (CPI). The Communist Party of India-Marxist is contesting four Lok Sabha and 17 assembly seats on its own.
The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is trying to retain Hyderabad Lok Sabha and seven assembly seats.
Prominent among the Lok Sabha contestants are union cabinet minister S. Jaipal Reddy (Mahabubnagar), union ministers of state Sarve Satyanarayana (Malkajgiri) and Balram Naik (Mahabubabad), TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao (Medak), his daughter K. Kavitha (Nizamabad), Lok Satta chief Jayaprakash Narayan (Malkajgiri) and MIM president Asaduddin Owaisi (Hyderabad).
The candidates for assembly elections include chief minister aspirants TRS chief Chandrasekhara Rao, Telangana Congress unit president Ponnala Lakshmaiah, working president Uttam Kumar Reddy, former deputy chief minister Damodar Rajanarasimha, and former state ministers Geeta Reddy and D. Sridhar Babu.
In the campaigning that ended Monday, the main contenders for power tried to woo the voters by claiming credit for formation of Telangana.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi visited Telangana twice. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed a rally.
Congress leaders said that without the Congress the 60-year-old dream of Telangana would have never been fulfilled. Rahul Gandhi also targeted the TRS chief for going back on his word to merge his party with the Congress after the formation of Telangana.
Countering the Congress attack, Chandrasekhara Rao said he did not give in writing that he would merge the party or have an alliance with the Congress.
KCR, as Rao is known, is confident of bagging 90 assembly seats and forming the first government of Telangana. The Congress is equally confident of coming to power and forming a government on its own.
For the BJP, its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed four meetings on one day.
Actor Pawan Kalyan's campaigning during the last few days bolstered the confidence of the BJP-TDP combine.
YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, a key contender for the chief minister's post in Seemandhra, addressed only a couple of meetings in Telangana.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 29-04-2014)