End of LS polls notwithstanding Telangana still in election mode

After the state elections in December 2018 and the LS polls in April 2019, The elections to Zilla Parishads and Mandal Parishads polls will be held in May for Telangana. File photo. PTI

The election fever refuses to subside in Telangana. India’s youngest state has been continuously in an election mode ever since the Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao opted for premature dissolution of Assembly in September last year and early elections. After polls to the Assembly in December last year and to the Lok Sabha on April 11, the state is now gearing up for yet another battle for control over the local bodies.

The elections to Zilla Parishads and Mandal Parishads will be held next month.

About 1.6 crore voters, including over three lakh new voters, are expected to exercise their franchise in the elections in the rural hinterlands where the real impact of the TRS government’s welfare programmes will be tested. The elections will be fought on party symbols.

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In all, the elections will be held for 535 Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) seats, 5857 Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) seats. The ZPTCs will, in turn, elect 32 Zilla Parishad chairpersons. The MPTCs will elect the Mandal Parishad Presidents (MPPs).

Three-phase polling

The State Election Commissioner Y Nagi Reddy, who has been reviewing the arrangements with the Chief Secretary SK Joshi, the Director General of Police M Mahender Reddy and other senior officials, said the polling will be held in three phases between May 6 and May 14. The detailed schedule will be announced in a couple of days.

The results will be declared on May 23, coinciding with the outcome of the general elections.

“The idea is to complete the election process for local bodies before the completion of general elections so that there will be no need for a separate Model Code of Conduct,” the election official said.

The polling will be held using coloured ballots of pink and white for MPTC and ZPTC elections respectively. As several independents are likely to contest, the State Election Commission (SEC) has kept more than 100 symbols ready for allotment.

TRS hopes to continue winning streak

After securing a resounding mandate for a second term in office, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) hopes to continue the winning streak in the coming elections to local bodies. With 100 MLAs in the 119-member Assembly, the ruling party has the momentum going for it. Moreover, the sitting legislators would have voting rights, in the capacity of ex-officio members, in the election of Zilla Parishad and Mandal Parishad chiefs.

In the elections held for over 12, 680 gram panchayats in January this year, nearly 9,000 panchayats were bagged by the party supporters and sympathisers.

“We have not only secured majority of the gram panchayats but also widened and strengthened the party base in Assembly constituencies where the Congress had won in the December Assembly polls. As a result, our chances of sweeping the Lok Sabha polls are very bright,” the TRS sources said. Elections were held on April 11 for 17 LS seats in the state.

Elevated as the party working president soon after the Assembly polls, the Chief Minister’s son and former Minister K T Rama Rao has devised strategies to strengthen the party in rural pockets and felt that winning the panchayat raj elections was one of the best options. He also popularised the concept of unanimous election to the gram panchayat which will make the village eligible for a grant of Rs 10 lakh. The TRS sympathisers and supporters registered victory in about 70 per cent of 12,680 gram panchayats

“We were able to make a turnaround in villages where the Opposition had an upper hand. People were convinced that TRS is more committed to develop the villages especially after the Chief Minister took proactive measures for implementing the electoral promises soon after forming the government. Several independent candidates who won as sarpanches also are keen to join TRS. This will strengthen the party from the grassroots,” a TRS leader said.

Court’s nod

The decks were cleared for the conduct of the elections after the Telangana High Court recently declined to stay the polls after hearing a writ petition filed by Telangana State Backward Classes Welfare Association.

A Division Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Rajasheker Reddy, refused to stall the election but instructed the State government to file counter within three weeks on all points raised by the Association. The petitioner sought a direction to stay the election process, alleging that the state government has drastically reduced the reservation quota for the Backward Classes in ZPTCs and MPTCs.

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