Hyderabad, Oct 31 : After a record voter turnout in the Huzurabad Assembly by-election, leaders of both the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are keeping their fingers crossed as to who would have benefited from the increase in poll percentage though few exit polls suggest an edge for the BJP’s Eatala Rajender.
In the fiercely contested by-election on Saturday, 86.33 per cent of nearly 2.37 lakh voters cast their votes. The poll percentage was 2.5 per cent higher than the turnout in 2018.
Both thw TRS and BJP are confident of a win in the by-election, seen as a battle of prestige for Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao and his close aide-turned-rival Rajender.
Out of 2,36,837 voters, 2,05,053 cast their votes in the by-election, which was peaceful barring minor skirmishes between the supporters of the two major parties.
Till the counting of votes on November 2, suspense will continue over the winner due to lack of clear indications.
Ever since Rajender quit the TRS and resigned from Assembly to join the BJP in June after he was dropped from State Cabinet by KCR over allegations of land grabbing, a close contest was seen on cards. A neck-and-neck battle was predicted after TRS named its student wing leader G. Srinivas Yadav as its candidate against the former minister and four-time MLA Rajender.
Finance Minister T. Harish Rao, who led the TRS campaign, exuded confidence of a big win for the party. “Under the guidance of KCR and with the blessings of people of Huzurabad, we are sure of a big victory,” he said.
The TRS leader noted that there was greater awareness among voters and they enthusiastically participated in the polling while following Covid-19 guidelines. He thanked the voters and all the party leaders and workers who worked hard for the party’s victory for the last four months.
The BJP state president Bandi Sanjay was equally confident of his party’s victory. He said though the TRS tried to influence the voters with money power, they acted with political consciousness. He claimed that people supported BJP and Rajender.
Sanjay said the information received from party cadres at field level shows that BJP is winning the by-election with a huge majority.
Rajender also exuded confidence that he will win the state. He said despite all the conspiracies by the TRS and all attempts to lure voters with money, they backed him. He alleged that TRS spent hundreds of crores to win the bypoll.
Meanwhile, some exit polls showed that BJP will emerge victorious with about 50 per cent votes. TRS is likely to poll 43 per cent. The Congress party’s Venkat Balmoor may get just 5.7 per cent votes.
Though it was initially expected to be a three-cornered contest, the Congress clearly lagged behind BJP and TRS due to delay in announcing the candidate and launching the campaign.
The Congress party had garnered 34 per cent votes in 2018. Rajender had retained the seat defeating his nearest rival Kaushik Reddy of Congress by over 43,000 votes. The TRS candidate had polled 1,04,840 while Congress candidate secured 61,121 votes.
BJP candidate P. Raghu polled only 1,683 votes, which was less than NOTA votes (2,867).
Kaushik Reddy recently quit Congress and joined TRS. The ruling party has rewarded him with a nomination to the Legislative Council.
Rajender had been winning Huzurabad seat as TRS candidate since 2009. He had served as Finance Mnister in the first TRS government after formation of Telangana State in 2014.
After TRS retained power in 2018, KCR again made him a Minister and entrusted him with the health portfolio.