The stage is set for polling in all 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana on Thursday with elaborate arrangements being made to ensure a free and fair poll. Having swept the Assembly polls held in December last, the ruling TRS is hoping for an encore in the company of AIMIM while the opposition Congress and BJP appear to be focussed on winning select number of seats.

As many as 443 candidates (418 male and 25 female) candidates are in the fray in the 17 constituencies.

Over 2.97 crore voters, including 1504 transgenders, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the state, which has a total of 34,604 polling stations.

Polling would be held from 7 AM to 4 PM in 13 Left Wing Extremism (LWE)-effected Assembly segments under five parliamentary constituencies, and from 7 AM to 5 PM in all other Lok Sabha constituencies.

Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency is a special case in this parliamentary election as 185 candidates, including more than 170 farmers, are in the fray. The peasants have entered the fray to highlight their demand for remunerative price for turmeric and red jowar.

The Election Commission has decided to conduct the poll in Nizamabad with EVMs (12 EVMs in each booth) despite the large number of candidates.

Polling in Nizamabad would begin at 8 AM and end at 6 PM as mock polling is expected to take more time compared to other constituencies in view of the large number of candidates.

Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury (Khammam), AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi (Hyderabad), state Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy (Nalgonda), sitting TRS MP K Kavitha (Nizamabad), daughter of TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao, are among the prominent candidates who are in the fray.

Addition DG ( Law and order) Jitender said special arrangements have been made for Nizamabad with additional deployment of four companies of central forces in the constituency.

As many as 145 companies of central paramilitary forces and 9,000 policemen from other states have been deployed besides over 55,000 state police for security arrangement, the police official said.

TRS leaders have repeatedly said their aim was to bag 16 seats for the party, leaving the remaining one for AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi, who is seeking to win for the fourth time from Hyderabad.

In the December seven, 2018, Assembly elections, the TRS bagged 88 seats in the 119-member House, while the Congress bagged only 19.

The BJP could manage only one seat and the Amit Shah-led party, in fact, forfeited deposits in more than 100 Assembly segments.

Compounding problems for the Congress, ten of its MLAs announced their decision to join the TRS during the last month.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the TRS bagged 11 seats, and the Congress two. The BJP, TDP, YSRCP and AIMIM shared one each. The TDP, YSRCP and one Congress Lok Sabha member later joined the TRS.

Campaigning for the coming Lok Sabha elections appeared low key compared to the high-pitched one seen during Assembly polls in December.

KCR and his son and party working President KT Rama Rao campaigned vigorously, constantly attacking BJP and Congress, saying these two national parties failed to deliver when in power and the time has come for regional parties to take centre stage.

KCR said if TRS won 16 seats, it would play a key role in national politics.

He claimed that none of the national parties-BJP or Congress would secure a majority on its own to form the government at the Centre.

Among national leaders, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and BSP supremo Mayawati canvassed for their respective parties.

Highlighting the “family rule” of KCR, Modi warned that TRS’ association with Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM party would mean “speed-breaker” for Telangana’s development.

Owaisi canvassed for TRS candidates at some places. KCR earlier termed AIMIM as TRS’ friendly party.

Rahul Gandhi alleged during election rallies that both the BJP and TRS have a tacit understanding and hence vote for TRS is like voting for BJP.