Hyderabad: Stage is set for the crucial by-elections to seven Assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. Six constituencies Kollapur, Nagarkurnool, Mahbubnagar, Kamareddy, Adilabad and Station Ghanpur are in Telangana region, while the seventh, Kovur, is in coastal Andhra.
The by-elections are being dubbed as "quarter-finals" before the "semi-finals" over the next few months, when 17 other constituencies will have by-elections.
The elections are critical for the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, to assert that the demand for separate state is still alive. As to the fledgling YSR Congress party of Kadapa MP, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, result of the by-election holds key to its fortunes, as it will face a bigger test in the elections to 17 other constituencies later.
Large-scale betting is on over the margin of victory the YSR Congress candidate N Prasanna Kumar Reddy may secure in Kovur, though the main opposition, Telugu Desam Party, is leaving no stone unturned to spoil his prospects.
Contrary to initial expectations, the sailing may not be all too smooth for TRS in the five constituencies it is contesting, as both TDP and the ruling Congress are said to be catching up in the race.
The TRS is anxious not to lose even on a single seat, as it is virtually fighting a do-or-die battle. A single defeat can prove to be its nemesis, and with it, the "statehood movement" too will suffer a major blow.
Speaking on the eve of the polling day, Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwar Lal said all arrangements had been made for the smooth conduct of the by-elections, in which about 13 lakh voters would exercise their franchise.
Authorities have seized over Rs 9 crore cash at various places since the notification of the by-elections. The CEO said there were complaints of large-scale distribution of money and liquor in Kovur.
There were also complaints that candidates were campaigning through Short Messaging Service (SMS) in Kovur. "We are looking into these complaints, and will take appropriate action," he said.