HYDERABAD : Polling was underway on Friday for the three Rajya Sabha seats in Telangana. Members of the state Legislative Assembly began casting their votes at 9 a.m. and the process will continue till 4 p.m., officials said. The counting of votes will begin at 5 p.m. and the results are likely to be announced an hour later.
The election became inevitable after the opposition Congress party fielded a candidate though the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has the strength to bag all three seats.
The TRS has fielded J. Santosh Kumar, B. Lingaiah Yadav and B. Prakash while former union minister P. Balram Naik is in the fray as the Congress candidate.
In the 119-member Assembly, the TRS has sufficient numbers to get all its candidates elected.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) (five members), Telugu Desam Party (TDP) (two) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) (one) have decided to abstain from voting.
The TRS has 91 MLAs while the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), which has seven members, has announced support to TRS candidates.
Two Congress members -- Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, S.A. Sampath Kumar -- cannot cast their votes as they were expelled from the House last week for allegedly hurling headphones during the governor's address, injuring Legislative Council chairman Swamy Goud in his eye.
Though Reddy and Kumar have challenged their expulsion in the High Court, the Election Commission clarified that they cannot cast their votes. This has left the Congress with just 11 MLAs, far short of at least 30 required to get its candidate elected.
The Congress issued a whip to all its members including six who crossed over to the TRS to vote for its candidate. However, those who violate the whip will not attract penalties of the anti-defection law as MLAs are free to vote according to their choice.