Hyderabad, March 17 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh assembly members began casting their votes to elect 10 members to the state legislative council even as suspense continues about who the legislators loyal to former Congress MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy will support.
Flexing his muscles once again, Jagan – as he is commonly known – held a meeting with 26 legislators supporting him. The meeting, which began before the polling commenced, lasted for one-and-half hours.
Those who attended the crucial meeting include 22 legislators of the ruling Congress and two each of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP).
Konda Surekha, a Jagan loyalist, told reporters that all the legislators would cast their votes. However, it was not clear who they will be voting for.
Congress candidate Mohammed Jani met Jagan loyalists, urging them to vote for the party.
The Congress party has already issued a whip to its legislators, asking them to vote for five candidates of the party and one each of its allies — PRP and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM).
The Congress, which has 155 members in the 294-seat assembly, and its allies can win six seats but the ruling party has fielded a seventh candidate.
The main opposition TDP has fielded three candidates and is supporting a candidate of its ally Communist Party of India (CPI).
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which has 11 members in the house, has also fielded a candidate.
The two-member Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is supporting the TRS, which has appealed to legislators from Telangana to rise above party lines to vote for its candidate.
Twelve candidates are in the fray for 10 seats. The counting of votes will be taken up Thursday evening.
The elections are the first major test of strength for Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy since he assumed office in November last year. His government is facing an open challenge from Jagan, who floated his YSR Congress party last week.
There was some relief for the government after the PRP, which has 18 legislators, last month announced its merger with the Congress.