The Congress hopes that anti-incumbency based on failure to deliver on promises like jobs and 2BHK homes
Finally, after an all-in campaign marked by loud decibels, unsparing speeches, shrill accusations and counter-accusations, creative usage of the media and social media and occasional crass sniping, over 3.13 crore voters, up by 5.8 per cent from the 2018 elections, will use a day of silence to reflect calmly on whom to elect in the third Telangana Legislative Assembly election.
As the 1,58,71,493 male, 1,58,43,339 female and 2,557 transgender voters prepare to head to the ballot box on Thursday, as many as 26,660 voters have already exercised their franchise, using a newly introduced “home voting” facility for the severely physically challenged and senior citizens, which is besides the postal ballots set aside for government employees.
Across 119 Assembly constituencies, 2,290 contestants will be in the fray. They include chief minister and founder of Bharat Rashtra Samithi K. Chandrasekhar Rao, his son minister K.T. Rama Rao, nephew minister T. Harish Rao, Akbaruddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, and BJP Lok Sabha members Bandi Sanjay Kumar, Dharmapuri Arvind and Soyam Bapu Rao.
Another important leader from the BJP is former BRS minister Eatla Rajender, who is running from two seats, and is directly taking on CM KCR from Gajwel constituency.
The Congress Party, the principal challenger of the BRS, would be led by TPCC president and MP A. Revanth Reddy, former minister Uttam Reddy and Mallu Vikramarka Bhatti, among others. Revanth Reddy, too, is contesting from two seats, his native Kodangal and opposite CM KCR in Kamareddy.
The state will see a three-cornered fight on paper, between the BRS, the BJP and the Congress, with the MIM contesting only nine seats, and the Telugu Desam Party deciding to not contest in the state for the first time since its inception in the early 1980s.
In the current Assembly, which would expire on January 16, the BRS had total domination, having won 88 seats in the last election (and over 47.4 per cent of the vote), while the Congress is a distant second at 18 seats (of which the winners of 12 defected to the ruling party). The BJP, which won only one seat in the last polls, found its number increasing to three, after its success in two bypolls.
The administration has made all arrangements for the election, Section 144 having been imposed when campaigning ceased at 5 pm on Tuesday. Over 2.5 lakh people will be put on poll duty on the day of the election. This would include 50 companies of Telangana State Special Police and 375 companies of Central forces to manage the security.
The major plank for BRS in seeking an unprecedented third consecutive term for any South Indian party or chief minister is the leadership of KCR, and a track record of balanced governance, comprising welfare and development. The Congress hopes that anti-incumbency based on failure to deliver on promises like jobs and 2BHK homes, besides anger against family rule and corruption, would help it upset the applecart.
The BJP hopes to do well in certain pockets but largely sails on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whereas the BRS hopes the split in anti-incumbency between the two national parties and its superior booth management would help it edge past the post in this thriller.
The Congress hopes its campaign for change works and the appeal of the Gandhi family as also Sonia Gandhi’s emotional message will help it end the BRS’ innings.