Telangana is all set to go to polls on December 7 with over 2.8 crore people eligible to exercise their voting franchise to elect a new Legislative Assembly. The political fortunes of 1,821 candidates will be decided in 119 constituencies in the first full-fledged election in India's youngest state.
Election authorities have made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the polling process in the 32,815 polling stations. A total of 280,747,22 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. They include 1,41,56,182 men and 1,39,05,811 women. The electorate also includes 10,038 service voters and 249 overseas Indian electors.
Serilingampally constituency in Greater Hyderabad has over 5.75 lakh voters, the highest in the state, while Bhadrachalam in Khammam district, which has a considerable presence of Maoists, has the least voters - 1.37 lakh. According to Telangana's Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar, polling will be held from 7 am to 5 pm in 106 constituencies while polling will conclude at 4 pm in 13 Left Wing Extremism affected constituencies.
Over 50,000 security personnel, including 18,860 drafted from neighbouring states and central forces, have been deployed as part of the massive security arrangements.
As the Communist Party of India-Maoist has called for a boycott of the elections, the police have heightened the vigil in areas bordering Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra.
Over 1.50 lakh polling personnel are on duty to conduct the polling process. As many as 55,329 Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and 39,763 control units will be used.
For the first time, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) are being installed across the state. After a voter casts his vote on the EVM, the VVPAT attached to the machine will display for seven seconds the choice made by the voter.
The elections are expected to be a contest between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is contesting all seats on its own, and the Congress-led People's Front. The opposition alliance also includes Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS).
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is contesting all seats on its own, is the third force in some constituencies. The Bahujan Left Front (BLF), led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist, and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are also contesting a majority of the seats. The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is contesting eight seats in Hyderabad.
The TRS government had opted for the dissolution of the Assembly in September, eight months before its term was to end. Due to the presence of independents and TRS and Congress rebels in some segments, the contest has become multi-cornered.
Officials said they were keeping a close watch to stop distribution of cash, liquor or gifts among people by political parties or candidates.
Over Rs 110 crore cash and over 5 lakh litres of liquor was seized across the state over the last one month. Liquor shops across the state were shut on Wednesday evening when campaigning ended. They will reopen only after the completion of polling. Orders prohibiting bulk SMSs of political nature will also remain in force during this period.
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