HYDERABAD: Polling was underway in Telangana on Friday to elect a new state Assembly amid tight security.
Polling began at 7 a.m. in all of the 119 constituencies in the first full-fledged elections in India's youngest state.
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Officials said the polling process began in all 32,815 polling stations spread across 31 districts. Voting began late in some polling centres due to technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Over 2.8 crore voters, nearly half of them women, are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the political fortunes of 1,821 candidates including Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao and his 14 cabinet colleagues.
Telangana's Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar said polling will continue till 5 p.m. except in 13 Left Wing Extremism affected constituencies, where it will end an hour early.
Over 50,000 security personnel including 18,860 drafted from neighbouring states and central forces were deployed as part of the massive security arrangements.
Over 1.50 lakh polling personnel were on duty to conduct the polling process. As many as 55,329 EVMs and 39,763 control units were arranged for the polling.
For the first time, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) were installed across the state.
The authorities have arranged 42,751 VVPAT, which are attached to the EVMS and will display for seven seconds the choice made by the voter.
The elections are expected to be a close contest between ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is contesting all seats on its own, and the opposition Congress-led People's Front.
The opposition alliance also includes Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS).
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is contesting all seats on its own, is the third key force in some constituencies.
The Bahujan Left Front (BLD) led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are also contesting majority of the seats.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is contesting eight seats in Hyderabad.
TRS had opted for dissolution of Assembly in September, eight months before its term was to end.