The results of the bypolls to 18 assembly and a Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday can set the trends for the general elections in 2014, though the outcome will not cause a change in government now.
A triangular fight is taking place in all the seats and the stakes for the major players – the Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress – are high.
The elections are taking place because 17 Congress MLAs and one MP have resigned their seats to join the YSR Congress, led by Jaganmohan Reddy. One has been vacated by actor Chiranjeevi, who joined the Congress.
Going by the prevailing mood, YSR Congress is expected to sweep the polls on the "sympathy"Reddy has been able to generate because of his imprisonment in the disproportionate assets case.
The emotional campaign by Reddy's mother, Vijaya Lakshmi, who is herself an MLA, and sister Sharmila has also helped the party's cause.
Reports from coastal Andhra suggest punters are heavily betting on the YSR Congress's success.
However, the two main parties in the state have not been cowed down by the prevailing sentiments. The Congress not only brought around all the feuding local leaders on a single platform but also mobilised top leaders from Delhi for the campaign.
The calculation of the Congress is that even if it performs badly this time, Reddy's prolonged jail term can take the edge off his party's stridency.
Similarly TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu has spared no efforts in giving a tough fight.