Hyderabad: A lengthy electrified campaign of high stakes came to a close on Wednesday as per new rules of the Election Commission, three days before the crucial by-elections in Huzurabad. After the five-month-long high-decibel campaigning in Huzurabad ended Wednesday evening at 5 pm, all non-local leaders from all parties left the constituency as per EC directions.
The BJP, frontrunner in the polls, end the campaign on a high note, with former minister Etala Rajender accusing Chief Minister and TRS supremo K. Chandrashekar Rao for thrusting the polls on people, by first unfairly removing him from the cabinet on false charges and then daring him to resign.
“He put false charges, threw me out of the cabinet, sent officials to investigate false case without reason, all because I would not compromise on my dignity or self-respect,” said Mr Rajender on the same emotional note on which he started his campaign months ago, when he was not even sure which party he would be fighting this election as a candidate of.
Bandi Sanjay, BJP state president, who led the efforts to bring in Mr Rajender to the party and then the campaign in the constituency, said, “the fight here is between the forces of morality and corruption. Throughout The day, there have been reports of TRS distributing Rs 6,000 to Rs 10,000 to each voter. Let all citizens note this declaration of TRS party and its supremo KCR that he will buy everyone out. How much corruption must they have indulged in to spend up to Rs 10,000 per vote for an Assembly bypoll?”
Finance minister T. Harish Rao, who led the TRS campaign, countered strongly, saying, “people of Huzurabad have an over 20 years love with the leadership of KCR. They have always stood by the car symbol and will continue to do so. The BJP does not answer our questions on the rise in prices of petrol or cooking gas. They don’t explain how in BJP ruled states farmers can’t get remunerative prices. Under TRS, farmers get Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bima, water, power and their produce is procured.”
Expressing confidence that people will vote for the pink party, TRS MLC-nominee Padi Kaushik Reddy said, “under leadership of CM KCR and election captainship of Harish Rao, our party will deliver a huge defeat on BJP candidate Etala Rajender, who has always failed the people here.”
Despite not being a strong party anymore in the area, Congress party kept its chin up, with PCC president A. Revanth Reddy launching a final tirade on both the major parties in the fray.
“Did Rajender quit fighting for Dalits, for farmers, for unemployed youth? Did he resign because KCR broke promises on Dalit CM, three acres land, 2BHK houses, or job notifications? No, it was a difference of opinion between two sides to a corrupt land-grabbing deal, who could not agree on their mutual shares. Why waste your vote?” he exhorted the people.
The Congress too stepped-up campaign towards the end but most people opine it got timed out with its delayed response to matter in this essentially two-party fight.
Even as reports of large-scale distribution of money and liquor has started, all parties maintained that they will win the elections because of the larger failure of their rivals.
Both parties, as a strategy, besides booth management and distribution of cash, are aiming tactically for the highest possible polling percentage ever, with a belief that a higher poll percentage would prove beneficial to them.
In the 2018 December Assembly polls, Huzurabad recorded 84 per cent polling and this time parties are making efforts to take it up by over 10 per cent to clock 95 per cent.
“Conventional psephology wisdom points to anti-incumbency being a trigger to higher voting, but since we cannot decide who is the incumbent – candidate Rajender or TRS party, besides the huge cash distribution – might explain the high voting,” said a pollster working for a party. “We will have clear trends with the exit polls.”
In 2018, out of 279 polling booths, only 21 witnessed over 90 per cent polling. This time, the polling booths were increased to 305 due to Covid norms. The constituency also saw an increase in voters by over 17,000 compared to the last polls.
Since the Election Commission of India has increased polling duration to 12 hours, from 7 am to 7 pm, again as part of Covid norms, parties are making arrangements to ensure all voters reach polling booths and cast their votes.
The TRS and BJP have appointed in-charges for every ward, whose principal duty would be to ensure all voters in their ward cast their vote. These in-charges are reaching out to every voter and requesting them to vote.
TRS MLC Palla Rajeshwar Reddy, one of the party’s in-charge for Huzurabad bypoll, said, “Our focus is on urban areas as they had witnessed lower polling in 2018 – often less than 70 per cent.”
Nevertheless, all parties are expecting a higher turnout in this bypoll in the backdrop of more than five-month long high-decibel campaigning in Huzurabad with TRS and BJP engaging in a tug of war since June....