Hyderabad: Polling began today simultaneously for 17 Lok Sabha constituencies and 119 Assembly seats in Telangana amid excitement of electing the first government of the new state that will formally come into existence on June 2.
Enthusiasm was writ large on people's faces as they queued up at polling stations since 7 AM today to exercise their franchise.
A group of youngsters was the first to reach the polling station at City Central Library under Musheerabad Assembly constituency in Hyderabad to cast votes for the first time.
"It's thrilling," exclaimed Pratyusha, an engineering student, after she got her right index finger inked upon casting her first vote. State Governor E S L Narasimhan and his spouse Vimala Narasimhan reached the Raj Nagar polling station at M S Maktha, opposite the Raj Bhavan, to cast their votes.
State Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal cast his vote at the polling station at IAS Officers Colony. Polling is being held simultaneously for 119 Assembly and 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana today.
As many as 2.81 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise this election. A total of 1,669 candidates are in the fray for 119 Assembly seats while 265 are contesting for the 17 parliamentary seats across Telangana. In three out of the 10 Left Wing Extremism-affected Assembly constituencies in the region, polling will be held till 4 PM while in the other seven it will conclude at 5 PM.
In the remaining 109 segments, polling will end at 6 PM, according to the Chief Electoral Officer. Four helicopters of the Indian Air Force have been stationed in districts for contingencies even as a strong posse of 90,000 police and para-military personnel has been deployed in ten districts of Telangana to oversee security.
Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and Telugu Desam- Bharatiya Janata Party combine are the main contenders for power in what will be the 29th state of Indian Union.
Prominent among those seeking election to Lok Sabha are Union Minister S Jaipal Reddy (who is probably fighting his last election), TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao, his daughter Kavitha, Lok Satta Party president N Jayaprakash Narayan, former DGP V Dinesh Reddy, former IAS officer M Chaya Ratan, CPI state secretary K Narayana and Majlis chief Asaduddin Owaisi.
The TRS head, who intends to become the first chief minister of Telangana state, is also contesting the Assembly election (from Gajwel), while other aspirants like C Damodara Rajanarasimha (former Deputy CM), J Geeta Reddy (former minister) and a host of others too are in the fray.