All set for by-elections in Andhra Pradesh

May 28th, 2008 - 5:17 pm ICT by admin  

Hyderabad, May 28 (IANS) The stage is set for by-polls to four Lok Sabha and 18 assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh due Thursday, an exercise being viewed as a semifinal before elections to the state assembly and the Lok Sabha next year. Four MPs and 16 state legislators of the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) resigned en masse in March to protest the delay in according separate statehood to the region and to seek a fresh mandate on the issue, necessitating the by-elections. In two other constituencies, the elections have been called after the deaths of legislators of the ruling Congress party and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

Election authorities have set up more than 9,000 poling stations for the by-polls and deployed over 55,000 policemen as part of the security arrangements.

Electioneering ended Tuesday evening with Chief Minister Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy, TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu and TRS chief K.Chandrasekhara Rao extensively touring the constituencies in the last-minute bid to woo the voters.

About 8.6 million voters will decide the fate of 174 candidates in the field. For the Adilabad, Warangal, Hanamkonda and Karimnagar Lok Sabha constituencies, 29 candidates are in the fray. For the 16 assembly seats, 145 candidates are trying their luck.

A majority of the seats is witnessing three-cornered contests. While the TRS is confident that the Telangana sentiment would help it retain the seats, the Congress party is banking on development works taken up during the last four years. The TDP, which targeted both the Congress and the TRS for misleading people on Telangana statehood, is hoping to regain the lost ground in the backward region comprising 10 districts as well as the capital city Hyderabad.

KCR, as the TRS chief is popularly known, is seeking re-election from the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat. This is the second by-election in the constituency in less than a year. His main rival once again is T. Jeevan Reddy of the Congress, who resigned as state minister to enter the fray.

The TRS, CPI-M and CPI, which fought the 2004 elections in alliance with the Congress party, are this time pitted against the ruling party. The CPI-M, which is contesting two assembly seats, has entered into an electoral understanding with the TDP.

The CPI, which has a tie-up with its Left ally but is maintaining equi-distance from both the Congress and TDP, has fielded candidates for two assembly seats. The BJP is contesting one assembly seat.

The by-elections will also witness the entry of a new party into electoral politics. The Lok Satta, founded by former bureaucrat Jaiprakash Narayan, has fielded its candidates from four assembly constituencies, including three in the state capital.

With the Election Commission of India strictly enforcing the model code of conduct, campaigning for the by-polls has been lacklustre. There were no posters and banners in a majority of the constituencies as the parties focused on meetings and rallies.

Cracking the whip, the Election Commission issued notices to the chief minister and about half a dozen of his cabinet colleagues and Naidu for violating the code. It also transferred three officials including a district collector.

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