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Telangana Elections: Polling Begins For 119 Assembly Seats Amid Tight Security

Polling for Telangana Assembly Elections commenced at 7 AM and will conclude at 6 PM. There will be home voting for people with disabilities and citizens over 80.

Edited By : Malika Sahni | Updated: Nov 30, 2023 08:44 IST
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Polling began amid elaborate arrangements in all 119 Assembly constituencies in Telangana on Thursday morning. Voting began at 7 am and will conclude at 6 pm.

As many as 2,290 candidates from 109 national and regional parties including 221 women and one transgender are in the fray.
Their fate will be decided by a total of 3.17 crore voters.

A total of 103 legislators are re-contesting this time, most of them from the ruling Bharat Rasthra Samithi (BRS). Voters would exercise their franchise at 35,655 polling stations set up across the state. For the first time in Telangana, a home voting facility is being provided to persons with disabilities and voters above 80 years of age.

Home voting for citizens aged over 80 years and persons with disabilities has also been made available, with about 27,600 voters enlisted to avail of the service on Thursday. About 1,000 other voters have also registered for the Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot System.

Earlier, Chief Electoral Officer for the state, Vikas Raj, on Wednesday, said that about 12,000 critical polling stations have been identified in the state where additional forces will be deployed, and more than 2.5 lakh staff will be engaged in poll duties.

“A total of 35,655 polling stations have been put together in Telangana. Also, conforming to the instructions of the Election Commission, we have arranged model polling stations and all-women polling stations. All necessary arrangements have been made to ensure hassle-free polling tomorrow,” the chief electoral officer said while speaking to ANI.

“We have also identified about 12,000 critical polling stations for which we have arranged the deployment of additional forces. Apart from central forces, there will also be micro-observers to ensure free and fair polling in the state. Areas declared as Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-affected will see the deployment of central forces in addition to state forces,” he added.

He said that as many as 27,000 registered voters in the state have already registered their votes by enlisting for the home-voting system this year. “About 27,000 people have already registered their votes through the home-voting arrangement. We will also arrange transportation for the returning officers to enable smooth movement to their designated centers,” he said.

At each polling station, volunteers will be stationed to help out disabled and wheelchair-bound voters. In addition, there will also be braille posters and ballots for the visually impaired to help them cast their votes. Similarly, we have also put up posters in sign language for the hearing-impaired. We have made all requisite arrangements for our polling staff, the CEO added.

The ruling BRS is seeking a third term of governance based on the party’s performance and promises over the past 10 years. The Congress is talking of support in its favor to form its first government in the state, and the BJP is also promising to end the “misrule and corruption” of the Bharat Rasthra Samithi (BRS).

Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, his minister-son K T Rama Rao, state Congress President A Revanth Reddy, and BJP Lok Sabha members Bandi Sanjay Kumar and D Arvind are among the list of key contenders.

If K Chandrashekar Rao, widely known as KCR, wins another term in office, it will be the first occasion when a Chief Minister from a Southern state will get a third straight term in office.

KCR is contesting from two seats — his original seat Gajwel and Kamareddy. While he is facing BJP leader Etela Rajender in Gajewal, Congress state unit chief Revanth Reddy is taking him on in Kamareddy.

Apart from squaring off with KCR, both Etela and Revanth Reddy are also contesting from two seats, with the BJP leader from Huzurabad and the Congress’ best bet Reddy from Kodangal.

Among the highly discussed seats is Korutla from where BJP has fielded Lok Sabha member Arvind Dharmapuri against Kalvakuntla Sanjay of BRS, and Narsinga Rao Juvvadi of Congress.

Moreover, from Maheshwaram, the BRS has pitted Patlolla Sabitha Indra Reddy against K Laxma Reddy (Congress) and Andela Sriramulu Yadav (BJP). From Goshamahal, the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded its Hindutva firebrand leader T Raja Singh, whose suspension was revoked last month following his reply to the show-cause notice issued by the party after a row was triggered by his remarks against Prophet Muhammad.

The Congress campaign in Telangana apparently picked up momentum after Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra and the party’s victory in assembly polls in neighboring Karnataka.

The three parties have made big promises in their manifestos. BJP leaders have been strongly attacking the KCR to fend off any perception of the party being soft towards the ruling party in Telangana. They have accused the Chief Minister of being “inaccessible” and ruling from a “farmhouse”.

BJP leaders have also accused KCR of propagating dynastic politics and said that suggestions by KCR to join NDA were not accepted. BRS leaders have refuted the suggestions about their intention to join the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
One of the key BJP promises is to make a person from the Backward Class community a Chief Minister if the party gets support from the people of the state to form a government.

The party has also reached out to various communities and the BJP-led government last week set in motion the process of setting up a committee that will go into the issue of sub-categorisation of the Madiga community within the Scheduled Castes. It has been a long-pending demand of the community.

BJP has promised in its manifesto to implement the Uniform Civil Code and quash 4 percent reservation for Muslims and instead increase the quota for OBCs, SCs, and STs in the state.

It has promised four free LPG cylinders per year to poor families, Rs 2 lakh to every girl child from a poor family after she attains the age of 21, 2.5 lakh government jobs in five years, procuring paddy at Rs 3100 per quintal, and reducing the price of petrol and diesel.

Congress has sought to outdo the BRS in its poll promises and has announced six guarantees including Rs 2,500 monthly financial assistance under the Mahalakshmi scheme for women, LPG cylinders at Rs 500; and free travel for women in state-run buses.

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The party has promised up to 200 units of free electricity to households, Rs 4,000 monthly pension will be paid to vulnerable sections.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leaders point out that the state’s per capita income has seen a significant rise in the last 10 years due to efforts of the government and various welfare and development schemes will continue.

In the 2014 assembly polls in united Andhra Pradesh, the then-incumbent Congress got 25.20 percent votes and BRS (then TRS) got 34 percent in the Telangana area.

Senior leaders of all parties including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda, Congress leaders Mallikurjan Kharge, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, TRS’ KCR, KT Rama Rao and K Kavitha and AIMIM Asaduddin Owaisi ran strong campaigns in the state.

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In 2018, BRS (then Telangana Rashtra Samithi) won 88 of the 119 seats and had 47.4 percent of the vote share. The Congress came a distant second with just 19 seats.

Source: ANI

First published on: Nov 30, 2023 08:43 AM IST

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