More than 1.50 lakh polling officials will ensure the election to the 119-member House is a smooth affair.
Hyderabad: After a high-voltage campaign that witnessed a shrill war of words by contesting parties, Telangana is set for Assembly polls Friday with the Congress-led alliance, the TRS and the BJP locked in a triangular contest.
More than 1.50 lakh polling officials, including reserve staff, are in the process of giving final touches Thursday to make the election to the 119-member House a smooth affair.
Over 2.80 crore electorate are eligible to exercise their franchise in the state, which has a total of 32,815 polling stations.
Campaigning had come to an end at 5 pm Wednesday.
Additional DG (Law and Order) Jitender Thursday told PTI that about one lakh police personnel, including 25,000 central security forces and 20,000 from other states, are engaged in poll duties.
A senior police official said security was beefed up at bordering areas which were identified as Left Wing Extremist-affected regions.
The assembly polls in Telangana were originally scheduled to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections next year, but the House was dissolved on September 6 as per a recommendation of the state cabinet.
It is to be seen if TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao’s gamble to opt for early elections pays off.
The Congress has stitched together the ‘Prajakutami’ (People’s Front) along with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS) and the Communist Party of India (CPI), to take on the ruling TRS.
The TRS, seeking a second term in office, is going alone, as also the BJP.
While KCR was without doubt the star campaigner for the TRS, the Congress and the BJP fielded their bigwigs for the campaign.
For the Congress, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the party President Rahul Gandhi addressed election rallies and the BJP relied on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party president Amit Shah.
Rahul Gandhi also addressed a joint meetings with TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
“We will win 100 seats,” Rao repeatedly said during campaign meetings.
Rahul Gandhi said Wednesday the Congress-led alliance was confident of winning the elections “hands-down” and claimed that KCR was showing “signs of nervousness and insecurity” in recent campaign meetings he addressed.
The BJP, which won five seats in alliance with the TDP in the last elections in 2014, said it ensured that there was a triangular fight in Telangana this time.
“Earlier, when the election season began, it was projected by both the Congress and the TRS as if the fight was between them, but it was a propaganda,” Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao told PTI.
“Vigorous campaign by BJP’s national and state leaders ensured that it has become a triangular contest where nobody can actually say who is winning and how many seats,” Rao said.
Meanwhile, state Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar said “Polling will start at 7 am and end at 5 pm, while in 13 constituencies which were classified as Left Wing Extremism-affected, polling ends one hour earlier (4 pm).”
As many as 446 flying squads were in operation in the state to swing into action if any irregularity was reported and 448 static surveillance teams would also keep a watch on the situation. They would wait in the wings to take action, Kumar said.
Besides, 224 video surveillance teams and 133 video-viewing teams were pressed into service. There were 126 assistant expenditure observers and 123 accounting teams.
For the first time, the Election Commission is using Voters Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in Telangana.
As many as 1,821 candidates, including a transgender, are in the fray in the elections and the counting of votes would be taken up on December 11.
Huge sums of unaccounted cash and illegal liquor and other goods were seized since the Model Code of Conduct came into effect on September 27.
As per the last count, the total seizures stood at nearly Rs 129 crore, including unaccounted cash and illegal liquor.
The entire force of the Telangana Police has been deployed for free, fair and peaceful conduct of elections, a senior police official said.
As per the Election Commission notification, 13 of the 119 Assembly segments have been identified as sensitive to Left-wing extremism (LWE).
“Special arrangements have been made for Left Wing Extremist areas bordering Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. Combing operations and area domination exercises have been carried out extensively to prevent untoward incidents. State and central security forces have also been deployed and adequate measures taken,” the official said.
Air ambulance and helicopters are being arranged by the election authorities for any contingency at strategic locations. – PTI
Read Global Pulse for a sampler of the big international stories, and why they matter.