The voting has begun in both Rajasthan and Telangana after the states witnessed vitriolic campaigning in which political leaders sparred with each other. Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in both states along with state leaders. Congress president Rahul Gandhi led the charge for his party.
While the BJP is looking to retain power in Rajasthan, it is trying to gain foothold in Telangana. Congress is trying to wrest power from the saffron party in Rajasthan and has formed an alliance to defeat the TRS and the BJP in Telangana.
Telangana’s caretaker Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao also led a vigorous campaign in the state.
Counting for Rajasthan and Telangana, along with Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram, will take place on 11 December.
Bipolar fight in Rajasthan
As many as 2,274 candidates, including 189 women, are in fray for 199 out of the 200 assembly constituencies in Rajasthan.
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Election in Alwar district’s Ramgarh constituency has been postponed due to the death of Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Laxman Singh.
Polling will take place from 8 am to 5 pm on Friday in 199 constituencies, Rajasthan’s chief electoral officer Anand Kumar said.
The most important constituency is Jhalrapatan, where Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is pitted against Congress’ Manvendra Singh. Raje campaigned across Rajasthan, travelling by road and air and addressing at least five meetings a day during the campaigning phase.
Manvendra Singh switched over from the BJP just weeks before being fielded against the chief minister. During his campaigning, he asked the voters if they want their vote to go in favour of an outgoing government or for the incoming one.
Termed as a “turncoat” since joining the Congress, he assured people during his campaign that the government that will come this time will be for the villages and for the welfare of the farmers.
Determined to win, he has also said that while beating Raje was an “uphill task”, he was here to fight and win the election.
Meanwhile, BJP’s Jhalawar MP Dushyant Singh, who was spearheading his mother Raje’s campaign, has termed Manvendra Singh a “parachute candidate”. In an interview to PTI, Dushyant Singh said Raje has worked really hard in the constituency and the development work done by her has been “phenomenal”.
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The Congress also fielded its state unit chief Sachin Pilot and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot in the campaign for the closely contested election, dismissing rumours that there was infighting within the party. If Congress wins, one of them could be the chief minister.
Talking to INB India, Pilot said that people have already made up their mind and Congress will win. He also accused Raje of making the people suffer for five years and asked what has the BJP done to change their fortunes.Pilot has also said that era of “rani-praja” in Rajasthan is over and no amount of campaigning and propaganda will bring the BJP back to power in the state, taking a swipe at Raje.
The contest in Rajasthan is primarily between the BJP and the Congress candidates in about 130 seats.
At about 50 other seats, rebel candidates from both major parties are in the fray, refusing to step down in favour of the official nominees. There are 830 independent candidates.
The BJP is contesting on all seats while the Congress has left five seats for its allies. The BSP fielded 190 candidates, the CPI-M 28 and CPI 16.
Triangular contest in Telangana
Telangana is also set for Assembly polls today with the Congress-led alliance, the TRS and the BJP locked in a triangular contest.
Over 2.80 crore electorate are eligible to exercise their franchise in the state, which has a total of 32,815 polling stations.
Campaigning came to an end at 5 pm on Wednesday.
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Additional DG (Law and Order) Jitender Thursday told PTI that about one lakh police personnel, including 25,000 central security forces and 20,000 from other states, are engaged in poll duties.
The assembly polls in Telangana were originally scheduled to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections next year, but the House was dissolved on 6 September after a recommendation by the state cabinet.
The election, therefore, becomes even more crucial for TRS and Rao.
The Congress has stitched together an alliance — with Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Telangana Jana Samiti (TJS) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) — to take on the ruling TRS.
The TRS, meanwhile, is seeking a second term in office.
The BJP, which won five seats in alliance with the TDP in the last elections in 2014, said it ensured that there was a triangular fight in Telangana this time.
“Earlier, when the election season began, it was projected by both the Congress and the TRS as if the fight was between them, but it was a propaganda,” Telangana BJP spokesperson Krishna Saagar Rao told PTI.
“Vigorous campaign by BJP’s national and state leaders ensured that it has become a triangular contest where nobody can actually say who is winning and how many seats,” Rao said.
Telangana Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar said that polling will begin at 7 am and end at 5 pm, while in 13 constituencies which were classified as Left Wing Extremism-affected, polling ends one hour earlier (4 pm).”
As many as 1,821 candidates, including a transgender, are in fray.
(With PTI inputs)