TS set for maiden Assembly polls

Over 2.8 crore voters will decide fate of India’s youngest State as it holds its first Assembly election

By Author  |  Published: 6th Dec 2018  11:20 pmUpdated: 7th Dec 2018  12:19 am
Telangana Assembly polls
Polling duty officers getting ready with the ballot boxes ahead of the polls in Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy stadium in Hyderabad. Photo:Surya Sridhar

Hyderabad: All arrangements are in place for Telangana’s maiden Assembly polls on Friday. The fate of 1,821 candidates, who are in the fray in the State’s 119 Assembly constituencies, will be decided by 2,80,74,222 voters, including 1,39,05,811 women. Polling will begin at 7 am and will conclude at 5 pm, except in 13 extremist-affected constituencies.

The key players in the arena are the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the Congress-led four-party People’s Front, BJP and MIM. Most of the 119 constituencies will see a triangular contest between TRS, People’s Front and BJP.

Chief Minister and TRS president K Chandrashekhar Rao is seeking re-election from Gajwel constituency, while Leader of the Opposition in the dissolved Assembly K Jana Reddy is in the fray from Nagarajuna Sagar constituency. Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy is contesting from Huzurnagar in Suryapet district.

Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly Sirikonda Madhusudhanachary is contesting from Bhupalapalli, while Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao and IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao are contesting from Siddipet and Sircilla respectively. State BJP president K Laxman is contesting from Musheerabad constituency.

Governor ESL Narasimhan and wife Vimala Narasimhan will exercise their franchise at the Somajiguda polling station (ICDS Anganwadi Centre, Rajnagar MS Maqtha) between 8.45 am to 9 am. The Chief Minister and his wife Sobharani will cast their votes at Chintamadaka, his native village in Siddipet, at 8 am.

Over 2.60 lakh personnel have been engaged for election duty across the State. From Hyderabad as well as constituency headquarters, they left for their designated polling stations after collecting the EVMs, VVPATS, control units and other poll-related equipment on Thursday.
Briefing the media about the arrangements, Chief Electoral officer Dr Rajat Kumar appealed to the voters to exercise franchise without fail to ensure success of democracy. “It is as a moral responsibility for all to vote,” he said.

Kumar expressed satisfaction over the arrangements for the smooth conduct of polls. Some 44,415 ballot units were sent to 32,815 polling stations set up in 31 districts and another 7,557 ballot units were kept in reserve. He said enough paramilitary forces were deployed in 13 extremists-affected constituencies. The polling will be held from 7 am to 4 pm in these constituencies. Extra force has been deployed in Kodangal Assembly constituency in view of recent incidents.

On seizure of cash and liquor, Kumar said till Thursday evening, police and Income Tax officials seized Rs 135 crore, which is almost twice of what was seized in the 2014 elections. The Election Commission is using 32,016 Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT), a first-of-its-kind exercise in the State to enable voters verify their vote. The slip will be displayed for seven seconds before dropping into the box.

The C-vigil app was also introduced for the first time in Telangana, enabling voters to lodge online complaints against violations. The CEO office received 8,071 complaints and 5,872 of them have been resolved of so far.

Voters who are not in possession of a voter identity or voter slips can produce any of the 12 other identification documents to exercise their franchise. These include passport, driving licence, PAN card, bank passbook, smart card, EGS job card and pension document. In all, 4,57,809 differently-abled persons enrolled as voters during the summary revision taken up before the elections.

Bhadrachalam constituency has 1.37 lakh voters, the lowest in the State, while Sherilingampalli in Hyderabad has the highest of 5.75 lakh voters.