The simultaneous elections in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are likely to scotch rumours and allegations that migrant Telugu people, though they enrolled themselves locally, cast their votes for their favourite parties elsewhere by having multiple voter registrations.
The practice of people having their voter registrations active in the two states assumed political dimensions in the past with parties levelling allegations against one another of using them.
In Telangana, 2 million names were deleted from the voter list ahead of the Assembly elections in December 2018, the reason cited being double entry, and a similar number of votes was removed in Andhra Pradesh, with the local authorities saying that those persons were not living in places where they registered their votes.
There are around 4 million people of Andhra origin who have settled down in Hyderabad and other districts in Telangana.
The Andhra Pradesh chief electoral officer, Gopala Krishna Dwivedi, said on Sunday as of February 26, 2019, the number of voters in the state was 37.1 million, including 18.44 million men and 18.73 million women. There is an increase of only 300,000 voters in the state compared to 36.8 million voters registered at the time of the 2014 elections.
In Telangana there are 29.5 million registered voters, according to the latest data, showing an increase of 1.3 million voters over 2014. During the Assembly elections, it was 28 million, which included 14.15 million men and 13.9 million women.
While it is not known how many people with multiple voter registrations manipulated the system, political controversies around the issue gained credence mainly owing to the fact that the elections in the two regions — Telangana and coastal Andhra, including Rayalaseema — were held in two separate phases in undivided Andhra Pradesh.
State politicians turned this matter to good account as they addressed the people of the two regions in a dual manner in the face of statehood demands in the past.
In the 2009 elections the then chief minister, Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, famously said in a Nandyal election rally just minutes after the completion of polling in Telangana that the people of Andhra would have to get a passport to enter Hyderabad if the state was divided.
He was projecting himself as the only leader capable of keeping the state united in spite of the fact that the Congress had included the statehood demand for Telangana in its election manifesto.
The simultaneous polls have also minimised the prospects of the leaders of the two ruling parties — the Telugu Desam Party and Telangana Rashtra Samithi — which have turned bitter rivals in recent times, to actively campaign against each other.
Besides this, the inclusion of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in the first of the seven phases has put parties of the two states in a spot because they only have a month's time to campaign.