Billed as semi-finals to the 2014 general elections

Curtains came down on the campaign on Sunday evening as the stage is set for holding the by-elections to 18 Assembly constituencies and the Nellore Lok Sabha seat on June 12.

TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu and YSR Congress Party honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma, accompanied by her daughter Sharmila, concluded the last leg of their campaign in temple town of Tirupati. Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and APCC president Botcha Satyanarayana stayed put in the State Capital to review the party's prospects with senior leaders and AICC emissary Vayalar Ravi.

Barring Parkal Assembly constituency in Warangal district, 17 other Assembly constituencies and Nellore Lok Sabha seat are in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. Election authorities made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the by-polls with restrictions being put in place on door-to-door campaign in the name of distribution of voter slips and conduct of opinion and exit polls in the constituencies where the by-elections are being held.

With over 46 lakh voters expected to exercise their franchise, security had been beefed up in the 12 districts and the Election Commission appointed shadow parties for contesting candidates besides prohibiting campaign through bulk SMS and other means. Billed as the semi-finals to the 2014 general elections, the by-polls are being watched with considerable interest across the country as the YSR Congress Party is taking the ruling Congress and the main Opposition Telugu Desam head on.

Most expensive polls

The by-polls have been proved as the “costliest ever” in the State with seizure of cash and gold worth an estimated Rs. 55 crore in addition to over two lakh litres of liquor by the authorities. Being held amid charges and counter-charges between the three principle contenders, high stakes are involved in the by-polls which have the potential to change the political course in the State.

The campaign took a new turn once Mr. Jagan was arrested on May 27 after three days of interrogation by the CBI in the disproportionate assets case. Contrary to popular perception that the arrest could impact YSRCP's campaign, his mother Y.S. Vijayamma and sister Sharmila entered the campaign trail, with a good measure of success in attracting crowds and maintaining the tempo.

TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu led the campaign on behalf of his party focussing primarily on the “corrupt deeds” of Mr. Jagan and “inability” of the ruling party to check the rampant corruption in higher places.

Keywords: Andhra bypolls