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Bitter campaigning ends

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STRICT VIGIL: The Central paramilitary forces conducting a flag march in Karimnagar town to instill confidence in voters on Saturday. Photo: R. Raju
STRICT VIGIL: The Central paramilitary forces conducting a flag march in Karimnagar town to instill confidence in voters on Saturday. Photo: R. Raju

Special Correspondent

Acrimony marks the fortnight-long bypoll drive

HYDERABAD: The fortnight-long campaign for the byelections to Karimnagar and Bobbili Lok Sabha seats, marked by acrimony and trading of corruption charges, came to an end on Saturday setting the stage for polling on December 4.

Hotels, lodges and guest houses that were choked with political leaders and their followers in Karimnagar and Vizianagaram districts breathed fresh air with the Election Commission ordering them to leave before 5 p.m.

Normally, campaign in the past have been about achievements. This time, quite unusually, major political players were at pains to disown any responsibility for their earlier roles endorsing printing of a health warning on beedi packets, a major issue in Karimnagar, and establishing a nuclear power plant at Kovvada in Srikakulam district.

Before ending their campaign on the last day, Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy and Leader of Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu accused each other of corruption and lack of integrity.

While the Karimnagar campaign generated intense political debate on Telangana sentiment initially, it soon gave way to the parties' concern for the welfare of beedi workers. It began at the public meeting of the Chief Minister at Sircilla on November 12, when some beedi workers protested against the health warning whose printing was made statutory through the passage of a Bill in Parliament unanimously. All the parties claimed they had opposed the Bill.

TRS president K.Chandrasekhar Rao, who is banking on the Telangana sentiment to see him through, has to contend with strong dissidence among his own party MLAs in the district. Congress candidate T. Jeevan Reddy faces a similar problem with some senior colleagues of his distancing themselves from the campaign.

Traditional road shows and public meetings marked the Congress and the TDP campaign, the TRS cause was aided by the `Dhoom Dham' cultural shows organised by Telangana intellectuals. The BJP pressed into service Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh at Karimnagar, but the TRS could not persuade film actor Vijayashanti to campaign for it.

In Bobbili, the focus is squarely on Marketing Minister Botsa Satyanarayana, who is being targeted by the TDP on corruption charges. His wife B. Jhansi, who is the Vizianagaram Zilla Parishad Chairperson, is the Congress nominee.

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