Voting concluded in Telangana, where the ruling BJP and main opposition Congress are facing competition from the regional BRS party A woman shows her ink marked finger after casting her vote outside a polling station during Telangana’s state assembly elections Hyderabad on November 30, 2023. © NOAH SEELAM / AFP
The South Indian state of Telangana has entered a three-way contest between the regional Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the main opposition party Congress in the last leg of crucial state polls ahead of the federal elections next year.
The outcome will be determined by the 32.6 million eligible voters in the state, where 2,290 candidates are seeking seats in the 119-member legislative assembly. Some of the country’s political heavyweights are in the running, including incumbent chief minister and BRS president K Chandrashekar Rao, his son KT Rama Rao, Telangana Congress President A Revanth Reddy, and the BJP’s Bandi Sanjay Kumar, D Arvind, and Soyam Bapurao.
In the lead-up to the election, the BRS, which has been in power since Telangana was carved out of a larger Andhra Pradesh state in 2014, promised a monthly payout for poor women, gas cylinders for families living below the official poverty line, and health insurance plans.
The BJP’s manifesto includes promises to completely ban cow slaughter in the state, similar to stringent rules imposed in many northern Indian states. The saffron party, as the BJP is known with reference to the color considered divine by Hindus, has also promised to scrap the existing quota reserving 4% of education and government jobs for Muslims in the state. Instead, the BJP has vowed to increase the quota for people from marginalized communities, belonging to the Backward Class, Scheduled Castes (SC), and Scheduled Tribes (ST) – several categories that require special provisions under the Indian constitution.
The Congress, which is the BJP’s principal opposition in the federal government, has promised in its manifesto to give gold and cash to newly married women, and electric scooters to “eligible women.”
Telangana is the last of five states (after Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram) to cast votes this month. The results for all five states will be declared on December 3. These polls are being seen as a ‘semifinal’ ahead of the all-important federal elections next year, when Modi will be seeking a third term.
The outcome of the current votes will provide an insight into the electoral mood in the southern parts of the country ahead of crucial general elections slated for April and May 2024. The key indicator would be whether the two national parties manage to challenge the strong regional players, a report in Telangana Today noted. (RT)