The results of the Assembly election in Telangana, which was bifurcated from Andhra Pradesh in 2014, will be declared on Tuesday. The Election Commission had recorded a voter turnout of 67% during the December 7 elections. The state has an electorate of over 2.8 crore and had 1,821 candidates vying for its 119 seats.

The poll panel had decided to include the state in its schedule for the Assembly elections in 2018 soon after K Chandrasekhar Rao, who was chief minister since the state’s formation, abruptly dissolved the state Assembly on September 6.

Rao, popularly known as KCR, was appointed caretaker chief minister after the dissolution of the Assembly, the term of which was scheduled to end in June 2019. The state Assembly polls would have otherwise been held along with the General Elections in 2019.

Main contenders

Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which rose to power primarily because of its campaign pushing for the state’s formation, is a major contender. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi has the support of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen, which has a very strong presence in the Muslim-dominated areas of Hyderabad.

The Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM may wield some influence over who forms the government with the eight seats it is contesting for, observers said.

At a press conference in September, Rao had ruled out an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is trying to retain its stronghold in five constituencies. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, however, claimed that the TRS and the AIMIM were collaborating with the BJP to win the election and retain the status quo at the Centre and in the state.

On Sunday, the BJP had called on the Telangana Rashtra Samithi to end its association with Owaisi’s party and instead ally with the saffron party if it wanted to remain in power in the state, reports said. Rao’s party, however, rejected the offer.

The Congress had announced its “maha kutami” (grand alliance) with the Telugu Desam Party, Communist Party of India, and Telangana Jana Samithi on November 9.

The Congress had fielded candidates in 93 constituencies, Telugu Desam Party in 14 seats, Telangana Jana Samithi eight, and the Communist Party of India three seats.

The alliance hopes to benefit from an anti-incumbency wave and has criticised Rao’s administration of neglecting development in the state.

Poll promises

Rao’s government is banking on its relatively high growth rate compared to the national figure and the state’s investment in development and welfare projects as well as the agricultural sector. The state government claims to have prioritised Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe communities with 8.5% of the budget, the highest proportion in India, Mint reported. The Scheduled Caste and Schedule Tribe community accounts for a quarter of the state’s population.

The TRS government’s track record, however, is mired in controversy surrounding its irrigation projects.

Meanwhile, the Congress-led alliance has vowed to deliver on its promise to waive loans given to farmers, provide free education to women and jobs for youth. The Congress has also accused the erstwhile government of steering the state from an alleged “revenue surplus of Rs 17,000 crore when it was formed” into a debt crisis.

The Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi have tried to reap the benefits of the state’s bifurcation and have conflicting claims about what led to its formation. While the Congress claims credit for the bifurcation being implemented under its United Progressive Alliance regime, the Rao’s party maintains that its agitation for a separate state led to Telangana’s formation.

Besides promising “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”, the BJP has promised to undertake a campaign to rename the names of several places in the state to “respect the sentiments of its citizens”. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had said the BJP will rename Hyderabad to Bhagyanagar, and Karimnagar district to Karipuram if it comes to power in Telangana.

Leadership roles

Rao appears to be the obvious chief ministerial candidate for his Telangana Rashtra Samithi. He contested from Gajwel constituency against Vanteru Pratap Reddy of the TDP.

Congress state president Uttam Kumar Reddy’s leadership of the campaign indicates he might play a prime role if his alliance wins. The TDP’s Chandrababu Naidu had confirmed that alliance’s chief minister will be a Congress member.

BJP’s state President K Laxman, who is contesting from Musheerabad in Hyderabad, is one of the party’s major contenders. Other key constituencies include Sircilla, where TRS’ K T Rama Rao stood against Mahendar Reddy of the Congress, Nizambad Rural with Baji Reddy Goverdhan of the TRS and Rekulapally Bhoopathi Reddy of Congress, and Karimnagar, which will have a three-way contest between the Congress’ Ponnam Prabhakar, TRS’ Gangula Kamalakar and BJP’s Bandi Sanjay Kumar.

Exit polls prediction

A Times Now-CNX’s exit poll had predicted that the ruling TRS will secure 66 seats and the Congress 37. The exit poll by Jan Ki Baat had said Rao’s party will secure 52 to 65 seats for the TRS and 38 to 52 for the Congress.

The India Today – Axis My India had predicted TRS will bag 71 to 91 seats and the Congress may get 21 to 33 seats.

Victory margins

Rao’s TRS has dominated the newly-baptised state’s short electoral history. Of the 90 seats it holds, only nine have been won inside a margin of 5%. The Congress has also won nine seats inside 5%.