Though there is a ban on any form of election campaign after 5 pm on 5 December in Telangana, advertisements – both by Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the People’s Front alliance – were splashed across the front pages of all newspapers in the state on Thursday, 6 December.
The advertisements, which appealed for votes, raised questions if they were in violation of the model code of conduct (MCC), which has been in place since 5 pm on Wednesday, 5 December. According to ECI, all election campaigns and exit polls are prohibited after 5 pm on 5 December.
However, Telangana Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar clarified that it was not a poll violation. “The advertisements are pre-certified, so I do not think they are in violation of the MCC,” he said, addressing the media on Thursday, 6 December.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has filed a complaint with the Chief Election Officer alleging that the interview by a newspaper with Congress president Rahul Gandhi was ‘paid news’. The party also alleged that a front-page advertisement by the Congress which was published in another daily was also ‘paid news’, and demanded action against both Rahul Gandhi and the newspapers.
Meanwhile, the CEO had said that the EC has seized Rs 135 crore as of 5 November, which according to Kumar, is twice the number of the money seized in the 2014 elections held under the united Andhra Pradesh.
The state has witnessed an intense battle between the Congress and the TRS, following which the EC issued notices to the TRS, Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao, Vanteru Pratap Reddy of the Congress and Revuri Prakash Reddy of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) for violating the Model Code of Conduct. The MCC had come into force in the state on 27 September.
Responding to earlier reports that the EC is planning to have breath analysers to determine if the voters are drunk, the CEO stated that they will not be indulging in moral policing and will take action only if and when someone creates a ruckus.
Telangana has a total of 2.8 crore voters, with 1.4 crore male voters, 1.39 female voters and 131 third gender voters. The state has 119 constituencies with 19 SC and 12 ST reserved constituencies.
While in the 13 constituencies affected with extremism – which include Sirpur, Chennur, Bellampally, Mancherial, Asifabad, Kothagudem and others – the polling will conclude by 4 pm. For all the other polling stations, the timing for polling is from 7 am to 5 pm. The CEO said that they have made enough arrangements to ensure a smooth conduct of elections.
Assembly elections in the state were announced after K Chandrasekhar Rao dissolved the Cabinet on 6 September. The results of the elections will be announced on 11 December.
(This article was first published in The News Minute)
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