Hyderabad: Among the four by-poll results on Monday, Nandyal constituency in Andhra Pradesh could turn out to be the most high-voltage battle, with the ruling Telugu Desam Party and main opposition YSR Congress Party with both taking the fight to the next level.
While Nandyal is being touted as a referendum on three years of TDP rule, Monday’s result could very well set stage for the 2019 Andhra Pradesh elections.
Amid tight security, counting of votes will start at 8am and the result is likely to be out by noon.
This is the first time that the much-debated VVPAT system was used in a by-poll, where voters could verify the vote they had casted.
Experts and many political analysts have predicted that the Nandyal by-election could be costliest ever, with expenses adding up to anything between Rs 100-300 crore.
With a record voting percentage of 79.13, analysts believe fortunes can turn to any side. The crucial seat has traditionally been an YSRCP stronghold.
Whichever party wins the by-election on Monday, it will have a direct impact on the politics of Andhra Pradesh.
The critical by-poll results could either be a booster for the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP government, or give Jagan Reddy a much needed rise in Andhra Pradesh politics.
The result will also have bearings on the future of a BJP-TDP alliance in the state.
Stakes are too high for both the parties here and that is why Nandyal saw high-pitched campaigns of both Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and YRS Congress Party chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
While Naidu and several of his ministers and legislators camped for several days at Nandyal to ensure victory, Jagan Reddy too campaigned extensively for 13 days, leaving no stone unturned to win this prestige battle.
In the politically heated campaign, Reddy urged people to give a big mandate to the party and take revenge on Naidu for not fulfilling his promises. He called the election a war between the "right" and the "wrong". TDP on the other hand, had promised many development schemes, if they win.
With several controversial statements during campaign, Nandyal managed to trend on national news.
An FIR was also registered against Reddy after the Election Commission found him guilty of violating the Model Code of Conduct. During an election rally, Jagan had made an objectionable statement saying, "If Chandrababu Naidu is shot in middle of road for his misdeeds it’s nothing wrong”.
Chief Minister Naidu was too seen losing his cool during the campaign and was criticized for asking people not to use roads laid by his government or take pension if they do not wish to vote for TDP.
From personal attacks to allegations of bribery, several complaints were lodged with the Election Commission from both sides citing violation of Model Code of Conduct during the campaign.
The police also arrested several party workers from both sides, who were trying to bribe voters.
The by-poll was necessitated after the death of sitting MLA Bhuma Nagi Reddy, who had won the YSRCP ticket, but later defected to TDP.
Interestingly, TDP chose Reddy's nephew Brahmananda Reddy and YRSCP fielded former minister Silpa Chandra Mohan Reddy, who lost the seat as a TDP nominee in 2014.
It’s an anxious wait, not only for the political parties, but also for people who had made huge bets on the outcome of the poll results.