Telangana statehood issue and corruption are the two key issues likely to weigh heavily on the voters' minds when they cast their votes in the by-elections to seven Assembly seats on Sunday.
The Telangana sentiment is the common denominator in Adilabad, Kamareddi, Station Ghanpur, Mahabubnagar, Kollapur and Nagarkurnool constituencies, but there are other local issues that will heavily influence the voters. It is a different ballgame in Kovur where the sympathy for Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy or lack of it will decide the final outcome.
In Adilabad, the Congress candidate harped on development and welfare programme while the TDP nominee tried to attract the voters by promising purified drinking water plants in each municipal ward and supply of water at Re. 1 a can.
Kamareddi voters were promised completion of Pranahita-Chevella schemes besides Rs. 140 crore Godavari drinking water project. The TDP attempted to play the role of a Good Samaritan by offering to take care of the Gulf expatriates' interests.
The electorate in Mahabubnagar appeared divided on communal lines with the TRS and the BJP, though fighting on statehood issue fielding candidates from different religion. Voters are promised a four-lane road connecting Mahabubnagar with Bhoothpur on national highway and upgradation of headquarters hospital.
The sacrifices by Nagam Janardhan Reddy (TRS-backed Independent) and Jupally Krishna Rao (TRS) in resigning their Assembly seats is their USP in Nagarkurnool and Kollapur constituencies respectively.
In Kovur, The Congress and the TDP focussed on attacking Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy of corruption and pursuing selfish political interests and his candidate N. Prasanna Kumar Reddy of practising ‘Aya Ram, Gaya Ram' politics.
On his part, Mr. Jaganmohan wooed voters saying the fight was between him, Sonia Gandhi and N. Chandrababu Naidu.
On the whole, the by-election has provided the TDP an opportunity to regain some lost ground in Telangana. Unlike the stiff resistance he faced in 2010, Mr. Chandrababu Naidu campaigned in all the six constituencies in the region and criticised TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao for his hollowness on the Telangana issue.
Tough contest for TRS
For the TRS, the poll results may not be as rosy as in 2010 by-elections since the party faces a tough contest in at least two of the five seats it is contesting.
The huge majority that the TRS candidates secured in 2010 when their TDP rivals failed to retain deposits in all the 12 seats where polls were held may not be repeated. It is locked in a tight fight with the BJP in Mahabubnagar and is tied in a three-way contest with the Congress and TDP in Kollapur.