Hyderabad: Telangana’s capital, Hyderabad, was abuzz with political activity on Monday, a day before counting of votes for the assembly elections, leading to speculation about possible alliances that might form the new government.
Opposition leaders from the Congress-led grand alliance met governor E.S.L. Narasimhan in the afternoon and formally declared its alliance, while All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi met caretaker chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief K. Chandrashekar Rao.
The alliance of the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) submitted a representation to Narasimhan that it will form the next government if it wins the elections, for which polling concluded on 7 December in Telangana.
The meeting between Owaisi and Rao, meanwhile, sets off speculation that the TRS will seek AIMIM’s support in case the results throw up a hung assembly.
However a senior AIMIM leader, who did not want to be quoted, said that it was a routine meeting and that Owaisi and Rao met to discuss how polling had taken place, besides other matters. “The TRS is confident of winning on its own," the leader quoted above said.
This comes against the backdrop of the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) announcing a few days earlier that it is ready to support the TRS in case of a hung assembly if it severs ties with the AIMIM. The BJP won five seats, all in Hyderabad, in the previous 2014 polls.
The Congress also demanded that the police provide security to its top leaders, claiming that there is a security threat to some of them. Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee treasurer Gudur Narayana Reddy, in his representation to director general of police M. Mahender Reddy, alleged that the police was acting on the behalf of Rao and is not taking the security of Congress leaders seriously.
Rao, meanwhile, claimed that the TRS will win close to 100 seats, while the Congress-led alliance said it would win about 80 seats. In the previous 2014 polls, the TRS won 63 seats and later increased its tally to nearly 90 as a result of large scale defections from opposition parties.
Interestingly, the AIMIM and TRS have maintained that they are on “friendly" terms, but have not said anything about an alliance so far.
There has been no discussion about a formal alliance at the meeting between Rao and Owaisi, as it was held to discuss other things, said leaders of both parties who did not want to be quoted. In case of a hung assembly, it will be interesting to see how the TRS reacts to the BJP’s offer, in case the saffron party has enough seats to offer support to the former.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has permitted candidates to deploy their teams to monitor strongrooms where electronic voting machines (EVMs) are kept. The Congress had submitted a representation to the ECI on this, stating that there was a fear that EVMs would be tampered with. Rajat Kumar, chief electoral officer, Telangana, said that the ECI allowed the teams at strongrooms to make the election transparent.
Counting for the polls will begin at 8am at all the centres in the state’s 31 districts, Kumar said at a press conference on Tuesday. A total of 2,379 rounds will be done for the process in all of the 119 seats in Telangana, he said.