High-pitched campaign ends; Telangana set to vote tomorrow
The stage is set for a triangular contest in Telangana among the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), the Congress, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
A high-decibel campaign for the upcoming assembly elections in Telangana ended on Tuesday, setting the stage for a triangular contest among the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), the Congress, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in what will be the last state polls before the crucial 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Telangana, which saw the longest campaigning period among the five states going to the polls in November, will vote to elect its 119-member legislative assembly on Thursday. Results will be declared for all five states — including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram — on December 3.
“It is 5pm and the silent period has started. There are various restrictions that are put in place by the Election Commission of India. In the last 48 hours, basically tranquil period given to the voters to mull over things and come to a conclusion,” chief electoral officer (CEO) Vikas Raj said at a press conference.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) have been promulgated across Telangana, where the model code of conduct has been in place since the announcement of the poll schedule on October 9, Raj added.
Come Thursday, 32.6 million eligible voters in Telangana will seal the fate of 2,290 contestants in the fray, including chief minister and BRS president K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), his minister-son KT Rama Rao, state Congress president A Revanth Reddy and BJP parliamentarians Bandi Sanjay Kumar, D Arvind and Soyam Bapurao.
The BRS, which has been in power since 2014 when the state was carved out of Andhra Pradesh, is aiming to return to the power for a third straight term, while the Congress and a resurgent BJP have left no stone unturned to dislodge the KCR-led party from the power.
The ruling party’s campaign centered around its ongoing welfare schemes for farmers and women in the state, besides attacking the Congress and the BJP, with KCR also invoking his struggle to achieve statehood for Telangana.
The Congress, while attacking the BRS government over alleged widespread corruption, promised “six guarantees”, including periodic monetary aide for women and farmers, to the people of the Telugu state. The BJP’s campaign, which was spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, centered around its attack on the KCR-led party and Congress over “dynastic politics” and “corruption” besides stressing the necessity of “double engine government” — BJP-led governments in the state and at the Centre.
On the last day of the campaigning on Tuesday, KCR made an emotional appeal to the people, saying he will turn 70 in a few months’ time and all he wishes for is development of the state as “posts” are not important. He also attacked Congress leaders over promise of bringing back “Indiramma Rajyam” (rule of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi) if voted to power in Telangana and alleged that her regime was fraught with “encounters, firings and killings.”
Rao is contesting from Gajwel segment in the upcoming assembly polls. BJP pitted its MLA Etala Rajender against KCR making it a keenly watched constituency.
Expressing his gratitude to the voters of Gajwel for electing him as an MLA, he assured that the constituency will be developed further if given a chance again.
“I will turn 70 by the coming February. With all your blessings, the achievement of Telangana statehood itself is a great honour for me. Posts are not important. I’ve already been chief minister for the past 10 years,” he told a gathering in Gajwel. “Telangana should become a great state in the future, that is my ambition.”
KCR is contesting from Gajwel and Kamareddy constituencies. State Congress chief Revanth Reddy from Kodangal and Kamareddy, while the BJP has fielded Etala Rajender, from Gajwel, as well as Huzurabad, where he is the incumbent legislator.
Congress parliamentary party chairperson Sonia Gandhi also appealed to the voters to support her party.
“Namaskaram, my dear sisters and brothers of Telangana, I could not come among you all but I am very close to your hearts. Today I want to say something to you. I want to see the dream of the martyred sons of Mother Telangana fulfilled,” she said in a two-minute video message on X (formerly twitter).
“I sincerely wish that we all convert ‘Dorala’ Telangana into ‘Prajala’ Telangana (from a Telangana of landlords to that of people’s). Make your dreams come true and give you a true and honest government,” she added.
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked PM Modi and the BRS, saying his aim is to eliminate hatred from the country.
“They (BRS) work for damaging Congress and supporting BJP in Maharashtra, Assam, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa. If we want to defeat PM Modi in Delhi then we need to first defeat KCR in Telangana,” Gandhi said in Hyderabad. “My aim is to eliminate hatred from this country and spread love and for that, Narendra Modi will have to be defeated in Delhi.”
Gandhi also interacted with auto drivers, gig workers and sanitation workers in Hydrebad’s Jubilee Hills constituency, from where former Indian men’s cricket team captain Mohammad Azharuddin is in the fray.
PM Modi, who led the BJP’s campaign in the state, on Tuesday said his party is emerging as Telangana’s preferred choice. He also expressed gratitude to the people of Hyderabad for their support during his mega rally.
“Immense gratitude to the people of Hyderabad for their unforgettable support! It’s clear that BJP is emerging as Telangana’s preferred choice, reflecting our commitment to the state’s progress and prosperity,” Modi posted in a video message on X.
On Monday, the prime minister also held a rally in Karimnagar and attacked the BRS and Congress, accusing them of “corruption”, “appeasement” and “dynastic politics”.
“Whenever someone talks about corruption, appeasement or parivarvaad (dynastic politics), the picture of BRS and Congress immediately comes to their mind. Both Congress and KCR are equal sinners in destroying Telangana,” he said.
Get Current Updates on India News, Gyanvapi Case, Farmers Protest Live along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world