Hyderabad: Polling was underway in the by-election to the Munugode Assembly seat in Telangana on Thursday amid tight security.
The polling process began at all 298 polling stations in the constituency in Nalgonda district at 7 a.m. and will continue till 6 p.m.
Over 2.41 lakh electorate, half of them women, are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the political fortunes of 47 candidates.
The polling began on a dull note in most of the polling booths. Authorities and political parties expect it to gather later in the day.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Vikas Raj said the polling process was being monitored through web casting from all polling stations.
For the smooth conduct of the polling process, 1,492 polling personnel have been deployed. The poll authorities have also deployed 199 micro observers
As many as 3,366 state police personnel and 15 companies of central forces have been deployed to ensure peaceful and free and fair polling. Authorities were especially focusing on 105 polling stations which have been identified as critical.
For the first time, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued new EPIC cards with six security features, including a hologram.
There are a total of 47 candidates in the fray but the main contest is among three major players — TRS, BJP and Congress.
The bypoll was necessitated after sitting MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy resigned from the Congress to join the BJP in August. Reddy is now contesting on the BJP ticket.
The TRS has fielded former MLA Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy, who had lost to Rajagopal Reddy in 2018.
The Congress has fielded Palvai Sravanthi Reddy, daughter of former MP Palvai Goverdhan Reddy.
The by-election is being described as the costliest in the country with the political parties accusing each other of distributing money, liquor and even gold to lure the voters.
The high-voltage campaigning was dominated by the allegations of corruption.
Both TRS and Congress targeted Rajagopal Reddy for resigning from the Congress and joining the BJP for a Rs 18,000 crore contract awarded by the BJP-led government at the Centre to his family owned company.
The BJP candidate, however, argued that the company bagged the contract in competition. He claimed that he resigned for the development of the constituency as it was neglected by the TRS government.
The arrest of three alleged agents of BJP in Hyderabad last week while trying to buy four MLAs of TRS caused huge embarrassment to the BJP in the midst of the campaign. One of the TRS MLAs Pilot Rohit Reddy, who had tipped-off the police, claimed that the accused, including two godmen offered Rs 100 crore to him and Rs 50 crore each to three others to join the BJP.
The TRS also leaked the audio of telephonic conversation of the accused, which indicate that some top central leaders of the BJP were behind the ‘MLAs poaching’ scam.
The BJP called the arrests a drama by the TRS due to fear of defeat in Munugode and even moved the high court seeking CBI probe.