Journey to Telangana polls dotted with bizzare remarks, superstition, eyebrow-raising spectacles

There’s less than a day to go for the Telangana Assembly elections, and it would suffice to say that it’s been a whirlwind of a journey of alliances coming together, campaigning, a slew of accusations and a whole lot of poll promises.

Amid all the chaos, there were a few of what one could call lighter moments, and some bizzare aspects.

Let’s start with a mix of the two descriptions. Politics is never short of outrageous comments by leaders. For Telangana, BJP's T Raja Singh, contesting from Goshamahal constituency, fulfilled this role.

Known to make controversial remarks, Singh, this time, took aim at AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s brother Akbaruddin. While speaking to India Today, Singh challenged the Chandrayangutta MLA to a street fight and said he would not stop fighting him “till his severed head is under his foot".

Before this, the BJP leader made it to the news when he said incidents of lynching will continue in India unless cow gets status of 'rashtra mata' and a law is introduced against the animal’s slaughter. He had also once sparked controversy by saying illegal Bangladeshis in Assam must be shot if they refuse to leave.

File image of BJP MLA T Raja Singh. News18

File image of BJP MLA T Raja Singh. News18

Another surprising moment in the run-up to the Telangana elections was when revolutionary poet and balladeer Gaddar shared the stage with Congress president Rahul Gandhi and also held Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu in a bear hug in Khammam on 28 November. This raised eyebrows as Gaddar has been known to strongly oppose Naidu’s strategy against Naxals.

It may have been surprising when Hindutva hardliner and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath was announced as one of the BJP’s star campaigners for Telangana, given his limited clout in the region, but it wasn’t surprising in the slightest — but was rather greatly amusing — when he announced a plan to rename yet another city — this time, Hyderabad. On the heels of his renaming spree in his own state, Adityanath, during election rallies in Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts, announced that the BJP will rename Karimnagar "Karipuram" and Hyderabad “Bhagyanagar” if voted to power. What prompted him to believe that voters want these rechristenings, only the yogi knows.

Superstition is not new to India. And such beliefs do tend to make themselves known even more in times of stress. The Telangana elections is one such time for candidates when they are resorting to practices they believe will help them secure a victory.

Caretaker chief minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K Chandrasekhar Rao visited a small temple in a remote village in Siddipet district before filing his nomination papers. He has been following this practice since 1985, when he visited the temple before filing his nominations then and ultimately won a great majority.

Similarly, senior Congress leader and Suryapet seat candidate Ramreddy Damodar Reddy is believed to always carry a leather bag while filing his nomination papers, something he, too, has been doing since 1985 as believes the bag brings him good luck.

Like KCR and Ramreddy, caretaker Telangana minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy places his faith in an Ambassador, his favourite to ride in while heading to file nomination papers.

Regardless of who says what, who fights whom, who believes in what and who suddenly has a change of heart about someone they despised, the outcome of the Telangana votes lies in the hands of the voters alone. We’ll know on 11 December.

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Updated Date: Dec 06, 2018 23:39:55 IST

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