The impressive voter turnout in all the Assembly segments of Mahabubnagar Lok Sabha constituency has left the principal contestants, including Union Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, guessing the outcome.
Mr. Jaipal Reddy is pitted against two formidable rivals -- BJP’s Nagam Janardhan Reddy and former MP A.P. Jitender Reddy of TRS. While Mr. Jaipal Reddy is banking on his personal image among the constituents, Dr. Janardhan Reddy is hopeful of victory in view of the Modi factor (the perceived goodwill enjoyed by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi). Mr. Jitender Reddy is betting big on the sentiment that has fast caught up in the district, which did not witness any major agitations during the peak of the Telangana movement.
According to Congress and TRS leaders, it will not be a cakewalk for Dr. Janardhan Reddy as the TDP reportedly registered poor performance in Devarakadra, Narayanpet and Shadnagar Assembly segments. The TRS is set to secure a significant majority in Devarakadra and Narayanpet while the Congress is set to fare well in Jadcharla. Given this situation, Dr. Janardhan Reddy should register an overwhelming majority in Kodangal, Mahabubnagar and Makthal segments to offset the shortfall in three other segments. This is highly unlikely, the Congress and Telangana party leaders argue.
The BJP cadre appeared upbeat following reports that there is a marked change in the voting pattern in Lok Sabha as compared to the Assembly segments, but their Congress and the TRS counterparts are not wiling to accept these claims. But, Congress leaders are apprehensive about cross voting in the LS constituency. In Mahabubnagar assembly constituency, independent candidate Md. Ibrahim is likely to eat into the votes share of Congress and the TRS. The Congress party’s Obaidullah Kotwal is likely to bear the brunt of Mr. Ibrahim’s presence.
Major political parties have taken the contest prestigiously as the Mahabubnagar seat was one among the few where the Congress and the BJP top brass addressed public meetings while TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao took the mantle unto himself on behalf of Mr. Jitender Reddy. AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Mr. Modi were among other leaders who campaigned for the victory of their respective candidates while Mr. Rao toured the Assembly segments extensively explaining the people about the promises TRS gave to this drought-prone district.
Polling was peaceful all through barring minor skirmishes between the Congress and the TRS workers at a couple of places. Voting which started as a trickle in the majority of the seven Assembly constituencies picked up by afternoon and crossed 50 per cent mark by 2 p.m. even as the turnout of voters kept increasing towards the end. Shadnagar, Jadcharla, Mahabubnagar and Devarakadra reported less than 25 per cent polling till 10.30 a.m., but the constituencies saw a significant rise in voter numbers later.
Aged and infirm people complained about the difficulties they faced in exercising their franchise on the EVMs, but the personnel manning the polling stations, after initial reluctance, permitted them to take their assistants along.