Hyderabad, Nov 30, 2023: Voting for Telangana’s 119 seats began this morning. The ruling BRS faces challenges from the Congress and the BJP - amid anti-incumbency buzz. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao is banking on social welfare schemes to win a third consecutive term.
1. Several high-profile names were among the early voters, including former cricketer Mohd Azharuddin, the Congress candidate from Jubilee Hills. Union Minister G Kishan Reddy, who is also the BJP’s state chief, also voted, as did BRS lawmaker K Kavitha, who was questioned in the Delhi liquor case. Telangana Minister KT Rama Rao also voted. Voter turnout at 9 am was 8.52 per cent, according to the Election Commission.
2. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has led appeals for a "record voter turnout" in this election. The PM, who was prominent in his BJP’s campaign in the state, has called on people in Telangana to "strengthen the festival of democracy". "I particularly urge young and first-time voters to exercise their franchise..." he posted on X as voting began at 7 am.
3. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, or KCR as he is called, is due to vote at a booth in Naveen Nagar, which is in Hyderabad’s Banjara Hills. Hailed as the ’founding father’ of Telangana - formed in 2014 - his BRS has won both Assembly elections since and is counting on that loyalty and its various social welfare schemes to win again.
4. He is contesting from two seats today - against the Congress’ Revanth Reddy in Kamareddy and the BJP’s Etala Rajender in his bastion of Gajwel. Voting was halted for 30 minutes at a booth in Kamareddy due to a malfunctioning EVM.
5. The Congress has been boosted by victory in neighbouring Karnataka this year - in which it routed the BJP - and has come out swinging under Revanth Reddy, its new state boss.
6. The party claims the gap to the BRS has been closed. It is also hoping to share in a possible bleeding of votes following the BJP’s allegations of corruption against KCR and, to sweeten the pot, has also claimed a secret deal between its two main rivals.
7. The party has also jumped on K Kavitha being questioned by central agencies in the Delhi liquor policy case, pointing out that she was not arrested - unlike ex-Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and AAP leader Sanjay Singh - despite figuring in the case.
8. The Prime Minister’s big claim - KCR approached him seeking a spot in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance - has also added to the perceived advantages of the Congress, which will hope to benefit from the BJP and BRS trading pot-shots in the run-up to polling.
9. Meanwhile, the BJP is now without a government in the south and will want a strong showing in this election, if not a win, to boost cadre morale in the south ahead of the Lok Sabha election, but all is not well. The move to drop Bandi Sanjay as its state boss and replace him with Union Minister Kishan Reddy has been questioned by many, as has its alliance with the Jana Sena of actor-politician Pawan Kalyan.
10. Telangana is the last of five states - the others were Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Mizoram - to vote in this round of elections, which has been seen as a semi-final before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Counting of votes for all five will take place on Sunday.