Hyderabad: Polling is underway to elect 119 members of the Telangana Legislative Assembly, with voters queuing up to exercise their franchise amid tight security on Thursday. Voting began at 7 am in the 35,655 polling stations across the state, officials said. Polling would be held till 5 pm in 106 constituencies, while it would conclude at 4 pm in 13 Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected seats. There are 3.26 crore eligible voters, including 1,63,13,268 male voters and 1,63,02,261 female electors, in the state.
As many as 2,290 contestants are in the fray for the upcoming elections, including Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, his minister-son K T Rama Rao, state Congress president A Revanth Reddy and BJP Lok Sabha members Bandi Sanjay Kumar and D Arvind. The model code of conduct came into force in the state after the Election Commission announced the schedule on October 9. BRS has fielded candidates in all 119 seats. As per the seat sharing agreement, BJP and actor Pawan Kalyan-headed Jana Sena are contesting in 111 and 8 seats respectively. The Congress has given one seat to its ally CPI, and is fighting from 118 others. Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM has put up candidates in nine segments in the city.
More than 2.5 lakh staff will be engaged in poll duties for the assembly elections, Chief Electoral officer Vikas Raj has said. About 77,000 security personnel, comprising state police and Home Guards drawn from the state and neighbouring states, besides 375 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF), have been deployed across the state as part of the security arrangements for the election.
For the first time in Telangana, home voting facility was provided to persons with disabilities and voters above 80 years. As on November 29, law enforcement agencies have seized cash, gold, liquor, freebies among others all worth about Rs 745 crore in the state ever since the model code of conduct came into force in the state on October 9, an official release said. The EC has ordered all private establishments including IT firms to declare holiday on November 30 to enable employees to exercise their franchise.
The counting of votes will be taken up on December 3. Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya, his Tripura counterpart N Indrasena Reddy, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, Union Minister and state BJP president G Kishan Reddy are among the prominent leaders who will cast their votes in the elections. CM Chandrasekhar Rao would exercise his franchise at his native Chintamadaka village in Siddipet district, official sources said.