Cam­paign­ing for polls ends in Ra­jasthan, Te­lan­gana

Gulf Times - - INDIA -

Cam­paign­ing for to­mor­row’s high-stakes as­sem­bly elec­tions, dubbed as the semi-fi­nal be­fore next year’s Lok Sabha polls, ended in Ra­jasthan and Te­lan­gana yes­ter­day with Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi mak­ing a con­certed at­tempt on the last day to win the con­test for their par­ties.

The con­test is largely bipo­lar be­tween the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress for the 200-mem­ber Ra­jasthan As­sem­bly. But it is ex­pected to be tri­an­gu­lar, es­pe­cially in some seats, for the 119-mem­ber Te­lan­gana As­sem­bly where the Congress has tied up with un­likely ri­val Tel­ugu De­sam Party, Com­mu­nist Party of In­dia and Te­lan­gana Jana Samithi (TJS), a new party floated by M Ko­dan­daram, to form ‘Praja Ku­tami” (Peo­ple’s Front).

Ko­dan­daram was once Chief Min­is­ter K Chan­drasekhar Rao’s friend in the fight for a sep­a­rate state.

The cam­paign in both states has been bit­ter with per­son­alised at­tacks by lead­ers of var­i­ous par­ties.

In Ra­jasthan, the BJP is fight­ing anti-in­cum­bency to re­tain power though no party has been re­peated af­ter one term in the last 20 years. With poll sur­veys pre­dict­ing that the Congress was ahead, the BJP has made per­sis­tent ef­forts over the last few days to shore up its prospects with Modi, the main vote get­ter for the rul­ing party, ad­dress­ing around 12 ral­lies.

Yes­ter­day, he made a strong at­tack on Congress over the is­sue of cor­rup­tion fol­low­ing the ex­tra­di­tion of Chris­tian Michel, a mid­dle­man in the con­tro­ver­sial Agus­taWest­land chop­per deal, stat­ing that the Bri­tish na­tional, who has taken Congress leader So­nia Gandhi’s name, will spill the beans on the deal dur­ing the Congress Party’s ten­ure.

BJP pres­i­dent Amit Shah has also been hold­ing road shows and ad­dress­ing press con­fer­ences in Ra­jasthan. The BJP won 163 seats in Ra­jasthan in the 2013 elec­tions while the Congress bagged 21.

On the other side, Rahul Gandhi has been on a re­lent­less cam­paign in both Ra­jasthan and Te­lan­gana. The Congress has not pro­jected a chief min­is­te­rial can­di­date in ei­ther state.

In Te­lan­gana, the Congress sur­prised the ri­val Te­lan­gana Rash­tra Samithi by com­ing up with an al­liance in a bid to oust the rul­ing party and has made the elec­tion a tough bat­tle be­tween the two sides. The BJP is seek­ing to emerge as a key player in the state.

Asadud­din Owaisi’s All In­dia Ma­jlis-e-It­te­had-ul Mus­limeen (AIMIM) is in the race in eight seats and is ex­tend­ing sup­port to the TRS in the rest of the state.

Chief Min­is­ter Rao had gone into the poll mode about five months ahead of sched­ule in the hope of tak­ing the op­po­si­tion par­ties by sur­prise.

But the Congress sprang a sur­prise by forg­ing an al­liance that in­cluded its erst­while ad­ver­sary TDP. The op­po­si­tion seems to have been able to put its act to­gether de­spite “early mover” ad­van­tage of TRS which had de­clared its can­di­dates early.

In Te­lan­gana, lead­ers of the rul­ing TRS and Congress held hec­tic cam­paign­ing on the last day.

So­nia Gandhi, who has not cam­paigned in sev­eral past elec­tions, made an ex­cep­tion and ad­dressed a rally in Te­lan­gana to boost prospects of Congress-led Peo­ple’s Front. She also made an ap­peal to vot­ers through a video mes­sage.

The new state of Te­lan­gana was cre­ated when the Congress was in power.

The BJP, which had con­tested the last polls in al­liance with the TDP, is seek­ing to emerge as a ma­jor player in Te­lan­gana with both Modi and Shah hav­ing ad­dressed ral­lies there.

In the 2014 as­sem­bly elec­tions which were held si­mul­ta­ne­ously with the Lok Sabha polls, the TRS polled 33% votes bag­ging 63 seats while the Congress se­cured 21 seats with 24% votes. The TDP and its then ally BJP se­cured 15 and five seats re­spec­tively with 21% votes (TDP 14%+BJP 7%).

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