Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) appears to be ahead of its rivals as campaigning came to an end on Sunday for by-elections to 12 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh's Telangana region scheduled for Tuesday.
Leaders and candidates of the three major parties conducted road shows and door to door campaign in a last minute bid to woo the voters.
Stakes are high for TRS, the mass resignations of whose legislators on the demand for separate statehood to Telangana February this year, necessitated the by-elections. All 10 legislators of TRS and a candidate each of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had resigned.
With Telangana as the core issue, the by-elections are a major test for TRS and Telangana sentiment, especially when Srikrishna Committee - formed by the central government to look into the demands for and against Telangana state - is in the final phase of consultations.
TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao and party MP Vijayashanti addressed a series of election meetings on the last day of the poll campaign. Some ministers campaigned for ruling Congress while local leaders of TDP canvassed for the party candidates.
Chief Minister K. Rosaiah and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, both of whom come from outside Telangana, choose not to campaign making it a low-profile electoral battle for their respective parties.
Taking advantage of this, the TRS chief mounted spirited attacks on Congress and TDP, labelling them anti-Telangana.
A new alliance also emerged in the by-polls with TRS supporting BJP candidate in one constituency while BJP is backing TRS in 11 constituencies.
For the ruling party this is the first election after the death of its popular leader Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy. The party is clearly feeling the absence of the strong leader to counter TRS and TDP.
After suffering the defeat last year, state Congress chief D. Srinivas is again trying his luck from Nizamabad Urban. The party has again fielded former ministers Mohammed Ali Shabbir and G. Vinod from Yellareddy and Chennur constituencies respectively.
TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao's son K. Tarakarama Rao is again contesting from Sircilla and is confident of improving his margin. He had scraped through by a slender margin of 171 votes in the last elections. The other key TRS candidates include T. Harish Rao (Siddpet) and E. Rajender (Huzurabad).