Telangana: Stage set for polling in high-stake Munugode by-election


by IANS | Wed, Nov 02, 2022, 01:46 PM

Hyderabad, Nov 2 (IANS) The stage is set for polling for by-election to Munugode Assembly seat in Telangana on Thursday.

The poll authorities have made all the arrangements for the polling in the constituency in Nalgonda district.

A total of 2,41,855 electorate is expected to utilise their right of franchise at 298 polling stations.

The polling will be held from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The poll authorities have made arrangements to webcast the election process in all the polling stations.

As many as 3,366 state police personnel and 15 companies of central forces have been deployed.

A total of 105 polling stations have been identified as critical.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vikas Raj said sending bulk SMS has been barred. The election authorities have also deployed special teams to constantly monitor the messages on social media.

Non-voters have been directed to leave the constituency. Special teams have been deployed to verify the presence of non-voters in function halls, hotels and other places.

As many as 51 static surveillance teams and flying squads were deployed on the ground to check model code of conduct (MCC) violations.

Vikas Raj has said that 198 police teams are on the ground to check any unauthorised movement of men and material.

As part of the election process, 821 persons with criminal antecedents had been bound over and 111 belt shops (unauthorised outlets of licensed liquor shops) shut.

The high-voltage campaigning went silent on Tuesday evening with the leaders of three major parties making a last-minute bid to woo the voters by canvassing to the optimum level.

On the last day there were many roadshows, street-corner meetings and public meetings.

The day also saw a clash between workers of BJP and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). Barring couple of incidents, the campaigning activisties went off peacefully.

The constituency is witnessing a three-cornered contest, whose outcome is expected to be significant ahead of the next year's Assembly elections.

There are a total of 47 candidates in the fray but the main contest is among three major players - TRS, BJP and Congress.

The bypoll was necessitated after sitting MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy resigned from the Congress to join the BJP in August. Reddy is now contesting on BJP ticket.

The TRS has fielded former MLA Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy, who had lost to Rajagopal Reddy in 2018.

Congress leader has fielded Palvai Sravanthi Reddy, daughter of former MP Palvai Goverdhan Reddy.

The BJP is confident of winning a third by-election in the state to consolidate its position ahead of 2023 polls.

The saffron party had wrested Dubbak and Huzurabad from TRS in 2020 and 2021 respectively to emerge as the main opposition party while Congress is still reeling under series of poll debacles since 2018.

The TRS has gone all out out to stop the saffron surge. The party deployed about 80 leaders including ministers, MPs and MLAs for the intensive campaigning.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao addressed two public meetings with the first being in Augusta day before union Home minister Amit Shah addressed a rally to welcome Rajagopal Reddy into BJP.

TRS working president K. T. Rama Rao, finance and health minister Harish Rao also addressed couple of meetings and road shows to bolster the ruling party's campaign.

For the BJP, its state president Bandi Sanjay, union minister G. Kishan Reddy, party's national vice president D. K. Aruna participated in the campaign.

During the campaign, the TRS called upon people to teach a lesson to BJP and Rajagopal Reddy for imposing an unnecessary by-election.

The allegation of both TRS and Congress was that Rajagopal Reddy resigned from Congress and joined BJP for Rs 18,000 crore contract awarded by the BJP government at the Centre to his family owned company.

The BJP candidate, however, argued that the company bagged the contract in competition. He claimed that he resigned for the development of the constituency as it was neglected by the TRS government.

The BJP was on the defensive as the TRS leaders also slammed it for seeking votes without its government at the Centre sanctioning a single project for Telangana in last eight years.

The arrest of three alleged agents of BJP in Hyderabad last week while trying to buy four MLAs of TRS caused huge embarassment to the party in the midst of the campaign. One of the TRS MLAs Pilot Rohit Reddy, who had tipped-off police, claimed that the accused, including two godmen, offered Rs 100 crore to him and Rs 50 crore each to three others to join BJP.

The TRS also leaked the audio of telephonic conversation of the accused, which indicate that some top central leaders of BJP are behind 'MLAs poaching' scam.

The BJP called the arrests a drama by TRS due to fear of defeat in Munugode and even moved the high court seeking CBI probe.

The Congress party's campaign was led by its state president A. Revanth Reddy. The party's campaign in last few days was affected as party leaders were busy with Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi in other parts of the state.

The Congress leaders trained guns on both TRS and BJP by highlighting their failures in the state and at the Centre's respectively.

The Congress focussed it's efforts on garnering support from women.

The party signed off its campaigning by holding a women's rally with Palvai Sravanthi making an emotional appeal seeking one opportunity to work for her father's ideals.

The Congress evoked the women's sentiment as speakers said "Sravanthi is your daughter and don't let a daughter cry."

Revanth Reddy said it was not a good omen for the state if a daughter cries and asked people to bless the Munugode's daughter whole heartedly.

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