As judgement day nears, contestants turning like fleas on a hot-plate in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

The elections in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana remain a high-stakes and high-voltage game, where the players stopped at nothing to turn the tide of the people's opinion in their favour. 

ByRaj Rayasam

Published May 12, 2024 | 5:16 PMUpdatedMay 12, 2024 | 5:16 PM

As judgement day nears, contestants turning like fleas on a hot-plate in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

The Day of Judgement has arrived. The people of the two Telugu States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana will deliver their verdict on the performance of the parties in power and those in the opposition, on Monday, 13 May.

The elections in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana remain a high-stakes and high-voltage game, where the players stopped at nothing to turn the tide of the people’s opinion in their favour.

Having exhausted their lung power, the leaders of political parties are taking a breather since 6 pm on Saturday, while the electors are taking centre-stage.

Interestingly, there is an unusual rush to Andhra Pradesh from Hyderabad and parts of Telangana of those who are still voters in Andhra Pradesh.

This bears testimony to how determined the voters are, to support the parties of their choice.

The  contestants are on the edge as it is day of reckoning for them.

Also Read: After electrifying campaign, stage set for LS polls in Telugu states, Assembly polls in AP

Rush of voters to Andhra Pradesh

Since yesterday, the trains heading for destinations in Andhra Pradesh have been running with passengers packed inside like sardines in a can.

The national highways have queues of motor vehicles stretching as far as the eye can see, negotiating the toll plazas slowly and gingerly despite the age of fastag.

The railway authorities have added one bogie extra to all the trains departing from Telangana to Andhra Pradesh. A special train to Visakhapatnam via Vijayawada has also been arranged on Sunday night and back on Monday night.

The seats up for grabs in are as follows: 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana and 25 in Andhra Pradesh. Besides, 175 assembly seats are going to the polls to elect the next government in the state.

In the outgoing assembly in Andhra Pradesh, YSRCP has 151 members, while TDP has 23.

The YSRCP is contesting for all the 175 seats but the TDP has teamed up with JSP and the BJP to prevent split in anti-YSRCP  vote.

The TDP is contesting 144 of the 175 seats as part of alliance, while the JSP is in the fray for  21 seats and BJP for 10 seats.

As far as Lok Sabha elections are concerned, while YSRCP is in the fray for all the 25 seats, TDP is seeking election from 17 seats, JSP for two seats and BJP, six.

Also Read: Bus stations, toll plazas witness rush as voters head home to vote in AP, T’gana

Election dynamics in Telangana

In the outgoing Lok Sabha in the state, the BRS  has nine seats, BJP has four seats, Congress has three and AIMIM has one seat (Hyderabad).

In the cacophony of the elections to Lok Sabha, the canvassing for votes by candidates in the by-election for the Secunderabad Cantonment seat in Telangana Assembly remained a little muffled.

The seat has fallen vacant following the death of 36-year-old incumbent BRS MLA Lasya Nandita in a car crash near Hyderabad on 23 February.

In Telangana, 3.31 crore  voters will cast their votes in 35,356 polling  stations. There are 625 candidates in fray for the 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana.

In Andhra Pradesh, 503 candidates are testing their luck for Lok Sabha and 2,705 contestants are vying with one another to win the 175 Assembly seats.

The total number of voters in the state is about four crore. The authorities in Telangana have so far seized ₹320 crore cash and gift articles, according to CEO Vikas Raj.

Also Read: Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada LS constituency, a battlefield for two brothers

BJP’s electoral manoeuvres

Leading the BJP charge in both the states was Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah, besides a battery of top-drawer BJP leaders.

They criss-crossed the entire length and breadth of Andhra Pradesh as well as Telangana, extolling the virtues of the BJP and berating the Congress and the non-NDA-regional players.

The issues related to development took a back seat as the main players tried to play on raw and baser emotions of the people as it was the sure way of reaping a rich harvest of votes.

A doctored  video of Amit Shah in which he was seen saying that the BJP wanted to win 400 seats to do away with reservations for all sections including  SCs, STs, and OBC, created an unprecedented cyclonic storm not witnessed earlier.

As the video was quite damaging for the prospects of the BJP and since it was shared by Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy himself, the BJP took it seriously.

As Delhi police began slapping cases against the Congress leaders and even summoned Revanth Reddy to appear before them, which he ignored, the BJP leaders began focusing  mostly on fire fighting – trying to neutralise the impact of the video.

They kept saying that the BJP was against reservations-based on religion. The BJP had to also fend off the Congress criticism that the party was intent on abrogating the Indian Constitution and rescind reservations for all sections.

Also Read: Will make Geetha as deputy CM, says Jagan appealing voters to reject Pawan Kalyan

Congress and its brand of secularism

To gain an upper hand over the Congress, the BJP  came up with other equally emotive issues.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had castigated the Congress for opposing the NDA’s presidential candidate Droupadi Murmu because of her dark skin colour.

Home Minister Amit Shah said that the grand old party was against the national interest as one of its leaders Mani Shankar Iyer and  INDI-Alliance partner Farooq Abdulla, had said that India should bow before Pakistan and not talk about PoK since it has a nuclear bomb.

If the BJP tried to cloak its campaign in saffron and hatred for Muslims, the Congress obviously did the opposite, promoting the Muslims and its brand of secularism.

Congress senior leaders Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge  and Priyanka Gandhi stormed the two Telugu states whipping up emotive issues like employment and exposing the religious bigotry of the BJP and how the Constitution of India had come under threat under Modi’s dispensation.

Also Read: As Jagan seeks to move out of YSR’s shadow, Sharmila relies on father’s voice in Andhra

BRS and Congress in Telangana

The BRS, the regional player in Telangana, made noises of trying to rekindle Telangana passions.

KCR, who himself hit the ground and gave interviews to the media, did not seem to have succeeded in playing the Telangana sentiment as effectively as  he did in the past.

The BRS tried to remind the people the development that took place in Telangana during the BRS rule but this line of argument did not find much traction with the people.

The pink party then switched over to negative campaign against Chief Minister Revanth Reddy against whom the top leadership of the BRS is accused of harbouring a pathological hatred.

For the Congress, winning the maximum number of seats in Telangana is a sine qua non to continue its journey on the gravy train, which began with its victory in the Assembly elections in November last  year.

The performance of the party is likely to be held as an indication of Revanth Reddy’s ability to sustain the  momentum that the victory in the Assembly elections had imparted.

Revanth Reddy is therefore on his toes while his colleagues stayed  put in  their respective districts trying to bolster the performance of the party candidates as any lacklustre show might be used against them in the days to come.

The BJP, which has to win the election at the national level, is trying to focus on each and every Lok Sabha seat in the south too.

Earlier there used to be no such focus. However this time, with conflicting reports emerging that the BJP’s performance in the north might be below par, it is  trying to win maximum number of seats in the South to make up for the loss in the North.

That was why Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and JP Nadda visited the two Telugu states several times within a few days.

Though the election is only for Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, campaigning by the three political parties  – Congress, BJP and the BRS – was quite intense.

Also Read: YSRCP, TDP, Janasena are ‘B’ team of BJP in Andhra Pradesh: Rahul Gandhi

Andhra’s intense political contest

In Andhra Pradesh, it is a no-holds-barred battle – the ruling YSRCP, which is determined to retain power and the TDP, JSP and BJP alliance, that is equally bent on ending Jagan Mohan Reddy’s vice-like grip on the state, come hell or high water.

Though Lok Sabha polls are also being held simultaneously in Andhra Pradesh, the spotlight is more on the Assembly polls.

This is because of the heat generated by the campaigning by the two sides, which often descended to despicable depths when it came to making allegations against one another.

In Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Mohan Reddy has made a whirlwind tour of the state, addressing  election rallies under the banner siddham, whistlestop meetings and interacting with people on how he had  brought  the governance to their doorsteps  in reaching the benefits  of welfare schemes.

TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan and Daggubati Purandeswari, Andhra BJP president, are in the fray from Kuppam, Pithapuram Assembly segments and Rajamahendravaram Lok Sabha constituency respectively.

They are trying to give their best shot to dislodge the Jagan Mohan Reddy government, which they believe has come to acquire the identity of anti-kamma dispensation.

Chandrababu Naidu is trying to wrest the “paradise lost” as any defeat in the election would be the swan song for his party, for him and more importantly, his son Lokesh’s political career.

But Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is in the fray from Pulivendula wants to retain the seat and become the chief minister for the second time.

Also Read: Land Titling Act: No security for people’s land, says Chandrababu Naidu

Social media battle at its peak in Telangana

The prominent contestants  in Telangana are AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi from Hyderabad, BJP general secretary and sitting Karimnagar MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar and Union Minister G Kishan Reddy from Secunderabad.

Former BSP state president and present BRS candidate RS Praveen Kumar from Nagarkurnool, Gaddam Ranjith Reddy from Chevella and a tribal woman Aatram Suguna from Adilabad are the others.

As many 73,000 civil police, 500 sections of the state special police, 164 companies of central armed police forces, three companies of Tamil Nadu police, 2,088 officials from other departments and 7,000 home guards have been deployed to ensure law  and order during polling in Telangana.

The most worrying trend that was witnessed in the campaigning was that the mutual recrimination by political  parties hit a new low.

They did not bother to use  intemperate, foul and abusive  language against  one another,  unmindful of the  fact there was not even a modicum of decency.

The social media was swarming with videos of all parties, some genuine, some partly real and partly fake and some outright fake, slamming one another.

The social media battle was at its peak in the campaign as the politicians realised that it was the sure way of reaching each voter directly.

(Edited by Shauqueen Mizaj)