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Inside Andhra's high-stakes election poker

April 10, 2014 12:05 IST

Crores are being spent in the high-stakes election poker in Andhra Pradesh.’s Vicky Nanjappa reports

The Election Commission has seized nearly Rs 200 crore across the country; Rs 118 crore is from Andhra Pradesh alone.

The elections in Telangana and Seema-Andhra will define the future of the political leadership in both these states (Telangana becomes India’s 29th state on June 2).

The EC has sent nearly 800 officials to Andhra Pradesh alone where they are watching each and every candidate closely.

In the 2009 elections, parties reportedly spent an estimated Rs 3000 crore in Andhra Pradesh. This amount, according to some, was on the lower side as late Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy was expected to lead the Congress to a thumping majority.

Today, the scenario is entirely different. Election expenditure in 2014 could reportedly be in the tune of Rs 5000-6000 crore.

Practically, Andhra Pradesh is fighting four elections -- two each in Telangana and Rayalaseema.

In Telangana, both Congress and the TRS are fighting a close battle.

There has been a high demand for the seats in both parliamentary and assembly segments.

For high-profile constituencies, some parties are alleged to have demanded nearly Rs 8 to 9 crore while in others the amount has been fixed at Rs 5 crore.

In Telangana, there is more demand for assembly seats as everyone wants to be part of the first government in the region.

The demand is not that high in parliamentary segments in Telangana, sources say.

In Seema-Andhra, the fight is between the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress party.

The TDP is desperate to make a come back while the YSR Congress is looking to run the first government in this region. There is not much demand for Congress tickets here, as it is a given that it will not win more than two parliamentary seats from here.

In the assembly segment, the Congress looks like it could win around 5 to 10 seats.

Unlike Telangana, there is a high demand for Lok Sabha seats here. The parties are aware that the voting pattern would be similar for the Lok Sabha and assembly segments.

The mindset of the people is that they want the same party to have the highest number of seats in both the segments as it would help develop the region.

Sources say that there have been instances of Lok Sabha seats being charged at Rs 20 crore when compared to the Rs 7 crore for the assembly seats.

Sources in the Election Commission of India say that it is very difficult to keep a tab on the money that is being paid by candidates for seats. The problem is that these transactions are almost invisible and worse none are going to come forward to make a complaint.

While there is such obscene money that is pumped in for candidate selections, the ECI also has to keep tab on the money that would be distributed few hours before voting day.

The last time, according to sources, money to the tune of Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 was given to voters; this time the payments could go up to Rs 3000 to Rs 4000.

The people who take money to vote also prefer cash to goodies, sources add.

Vicky Nanjappa/