In Telangana, the atmosphere was charged as the state's legislative Assembly elections unfolded under stringent security measures. The day commenced with lengthy queues forming at several polling stations as voting commenced promptly at 7 a.m.
Despite the early chill, an enthusiastic turnout was witnessed across all 119 Assembly constituencies as voters eagerly exercised their democratic rights.
While a few glitches in electronic voting machines were reported, swift arrangements were made by authorities to replace them with alternative machines to ensure a smooth voting process.
Over 3.26 crore voters are poised to determine the fates of 2,290 candidates vying for positions in the Assembly. The Election Commission of India meticulously organized the polling, setting up 35,655 polling stations spread across 33 districts.
Vikas Raj, the Chief Electoral Officer, cast his vote early in Hyderabad and reported that the polling was progressing seamlessly and peacefully.
Prominent personalities, including K. Kavitha of Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin of Congress, and actors Chiranjeevi, Venkatesh, and Allu Arjun were among the early voters in Hyderabad.
The massive operation involved deploying over 1.85 lakh polling personnel and 22,000 micro observers overseeing the entire polling process statewide. Extensive measures like webcasting at 27,094 polling stations and special provisions for voters with disabilities were put in place, including the arrangement of 21,686 wheelchairs.
Security was a priority with approximately 45,000 state police personnel, 3,000 from other departments, 50 companies of Telangana State Special Police (TSSP), and 375 companies of central paramilitary forces ensuring the integrity of the polls. Additionally, 23,500 homeguards from neighboring states were also deployed.
Polling is scheduled to conclude at 5 p.m., except for 13 constituencies in Maoist-influenced districts where it will end at 4 p.m. A total of 72,931 ballot units or EVMs were arranged, with the majority deployed at polling stations and some reserved for replacements.
A diverse spectrum of candidates, including 221 women and one transgender individual, are contesting in this election. The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and Congress are locked in a fierce battle for power, with BJP emerging as a significant contender potentially influencing the outcome by garnering anti-incumbency votes.
The BJP, fielding candidates in 111 constituencies, has reserved eight seats for its ally Jana Sena Party (JSP) led by actor-politician Pawan Kalyan. Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting all seats independently.
The formidable figures in the fray include Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao from Gajwel and Kamareddy, State Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy from Kamareddy and Kodangal, and other notable candidates like K.T. Rama Rao, T. Harish Rao, Mohammed Azharuddin, Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, Uttam Kumar Reddy, Eatala Rajender, Bandi Sanjay Kumar, and Akbaruddin Owaisi, among others.
(With Agency Inputs)