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Polling Stage Set for Telangana Assembly Elections

A little over 3.26 crore voters will decide the political fortunes of 2,290 candidates on Thursday as the stage is set for polling for Telangana Assembly elections. The Election Commission (EC) has made elaborate arrangements for polling in all 119 constituencies. More than 1.85 lakh polling personnel will be deployed at 35,655 polling stations while 22,000 micro observers will monitor the polling process.

A total of 45,000 personnel from the state, 3,000 from other departments, 50 companies of Telangana State Special Police (TSSP), and 375 companies of the central paramilitary forces have been deployed as part of the massive security arrangements to ensure free and fair polls. Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vikas Raj said 23,500 home guards from neighboring states will also be on duty. Polling will be held from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

However, in 13 constituencies in Maoist-hit districts, polling will conclude at 4 p.m. Polling staff have left for their respective polling stations after collecting the polling material from distribution centers in all the constituencies. Officials handed over EVMs, VVPATs, and other materials to presiding officers. Election authorities have arranged a total of 72,931 ballot units or EVMs.

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Of them, 59,779 will be deployed at polling stations while the remaining will be kept in reserve for replacement. The state has a total of 3,26,02,799 voters, comprising 1,62,98,418 men, 1,63,01,705 women and 2,676 transgenders. There are 15,406 service voters and 2,944 NRI voters.

The number of voters in the age group of 18-19 is 9,99,667. A total of 2,290 candidates including 221 women and one transgender are in the fray. Four ballot units will be deployed at each polling station in Lal Bahadur Nagar constituency in Greater Hyderabad, which has the highest number of candidates (48). Nine constituencies will have three EVMs at each of the polling stations.

Three EVMs will be deployed at polling centers in Kamareddy, where Chief Minister and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) president K. Chandrasekhar Rao and state Congress chief A. Revanth Reddy is among 39 candidates. KCR is also seeking re-election from the Gajwel constituency in the Siddipet district while Revanth Reddy is also contesting from Kodangal in Vikarabad district.

BRS and Congress are locked in a tough battle for power in India’s youngest state. While the BRS is aiming for a third consecutive term in power, Congress is confident of forming the first government in a state which it claims to have carved out. The BRS is contesting all 119 seats on its own. The Congress has left one seat for its ally Communist Party of India (CPI).

The BJP is the third major contestant in the fray and it may impact the outcome by cutting into anti-incumbency votes. The BJP has fielded candidates in 111 constituencies and left the remaining eight for its ally Jana Sena Party (JSP) led by actor-politician Pawan Kalyan. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is contesting all the seats on its own. AIMIM, a friendly party of BRS, has fielded candidates in nine constituencies, all in Hyderabad.

In the rest of the state, it has declared support for BRS. The other prominent candidates include BRS working president, IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao (Sircilla), Finance Minister T. Harish Rao (Siddipet), Congress leader and former Indian cricket captain Mohammed Azharuddin (Jubilee Hills), Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka (Wyra), former TPCC president Uttam Kumar Reddy (Huzurnagar), BJP leader and former minister Eatala Rajender (Huzurabad and Gajwel), BJP general secretary Bandi Sanjay Kumar (Karimnagar) and AIMIM leader Akbaruddin Owaisi (Chandrayangutta). Authorities have arranged to webcast at 27,094 polling stations across the state.

The Election Commission has made special arrangements for PwD (Person with Disability) voters at all polling stations. It has arranged 21,686 wheelchairs. For the visually challenged, the authorities have printed 76,532 voter slips and 40,000 dummy ballot papers in Braille. Transport arrangements will also be made for senior citizens aged above 80 and PwD voters.

To increase the polling percentage, the poll authorities have set up 644 model polling stations. These include 120 polling stations for PwD voters and 597 women-managed polling stations. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 3.

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