Andhra local bodies’ polls start today; litmus test for Congress

Students of the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Hyderabad will have a unique role to play in the upcoming local body polls starting Tuesday.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad | Published: July 23, 2013 2:01 am

Students of the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Hyderabad will have a unique role to play in the upcoming local body polls starting Tuesday.

The State Election Commission (SEC) will engage about 400 of them to web-cast live the voting process in sensitive booths. The election,which is being held after seven years,is being seen by political observers as a precursor to the 2014 general election as all candidates have political backing.

While the students of Hyderabad campus will assist the SEC in Rayalaseema and Telangana,students of Nuzvid campus will work in coastal districts. The election will be held in three phases on July 23,27 and 31. According to the SEC,21,491 gram panchayats with voter strength of 3.95 crore will go to polls.

The SEC has postponed polls in 298 panchayats to be held between July 23 and 31 due to floods in some districts,said State Election Commissioner P Ramakanth Reddy.

Political observers say the Congress delayed the local body polls in a bid to test its prospects in general election which is just nine months away. Pundits say in the context of an aggressive YSR Congress (YSRCP),the results could be an eye-opener for the Congress.

Defections and infighting have made all the parties,the Congress,the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSRCP,unsure of their prospects in many panchayats. Close contests are expected in East and West Godavari districts,Krishna,Guntur,Kadapa and Kurnool.

The unanimous election of many candidates after the last day to withdraw nominations point out that the YSRCP has already invaded traditional Congress and the TDP bastions. Early indications are that candidates backed by the YSRCP and the TDP gained at the expense of the Congress.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS),whose future swings based on its movement for a separate Telangana,is looking to consolidate its positions in nine Telangana districts,excluding Hyderabad.

The police and vigilance squads have already seized more than Rs 10 crore in cash,truck with loads of liquor,Chinese-made cheap mobile phones,saris and other gifts that were being taken to various parts of states to be distributed to woo voters.

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