‘Money and mafia are playing havoc’
RS1.1B SEIZED IN CRACKDOWN ON VOTE BUYING, AS CAMPAIGNING ENDS IN HIGH STAKES TELANGANA ELECTION
Ahigh voltage, bitter and pugnacious election campaign, marked by abuses and insults, came to an end in Telangana yesterday with a question mark remaining on the possible winner.
As the loudspeakers fell silent, officials got down to the serious business of making arrangements to ensure free and fair polling tomorrow. An estimated 39 million voters will be eligible to decide the fate of 1,824 candidates in the fray for 119 seats of the legislative assembly.
Rajat Kumar, chief electoral officer, said polling would start in all the constituencies at 7am and close at 4pm in 13 remote constituencies facing the threat of Maoists and at 5pm in the remaining constituencies.
In a massive drive against votebuying in the elections, authorities have seized Rs1.11 billion, 380 million more than last time and Rs70 million (Dh3.64 million) worth liquor and gifts.
“Money and mafia are playing havoc in this election”, the election official said.
All proclaiming victory
Authorities have also ordered all liquor outlets to close ahead of the poll and warned that those who come to polling stations in a drunken state will be jailed.
Most of the constituencies were witnessing three cornered contest between ruling Telangana Rashtra Samit (TRS) with tacit support of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Congressled People’s Front, the BJP also poured enormous resources and manpower to seek to expand its footprint in the state.
The TRS and BJP are contesting in all 119 seats, but the Congress party has fielded candidates in only 94 constituencies, leaving 14 for the TDP and the remaining to the CPI and Telangana Jana Samiti. Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) was contesting in 8 seats and supporting the TRS in other constituencies.
All the sides were proclaiming victory in advance.
“We are returning to power with at least 100 seats,” declared a combative TRS supremo and caretaker Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
Having addressed about a hundred meetings over the last 20 days, KCR rounded up his hectic campaign in his own home constituency Gajwel.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi who along with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and Telugu Desam President N. Chandrababu Naidu commandeered the campaign of the People’s Front was no less confident of the alliance wresting the power.
“The time has come for the people to end the family rule and corruption of KCR and send him back home”, Rahul declared in one of his final election rallies in the state.
The BJP also ran an unprecedented campaign with huge resources at its disposal. In a record of sorts, the entire top BJP leadership campaigned through the length and breadth of the state.
“If we look at the atmosphere in Hyderabad, this election clearly belongs to the BJP”, declared Prime Minister Narendra Modi who addressed three rallies in the state. BJP President Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and several other top leaders also addressed a large number of election meetings.