In poll-bound Telangana, the ruling TRS and the Congress-led opposition alliance claim that it is going to be a straight fight between them and that the BJP is not in the reckoning.
The saffron party, on the other hand, claims that the southern state is staring at a hung verdict, indicating that it will emerge as a kingmaker.
“They (BJP) had five seats (in the dissolved Assembly). They may get one or two this time,” All India Congress Committee (AICC) in-charge of Telangana affairs R C Khuntia told PTI.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) leader and a key minister in the caretaker government, K T Rama Rao, son of party supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao, echoed a similar view.
“The Congress is our main rival. The BJP does not exist in Telangana,” he said.
Rama Rao claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates would forfeit their deposits in more than 100 seats (of the 119 in the state) and “not even one MLA in the just-dissolved House will return”.
Congress leader Khuntia said the people of Telangana were looking at a contest between the Congress-led alliance and the TRS.
“There is no in-between. Neither the BJP nor the smaller parties can create confidence among the people that they can form the government. The fight is between the Congress-led alliance and the TRS,” he added.
After keeping all waiting, the main opposition Congress and its TDP ally in Telangana on Monday released their first lists of candidates for the December 7 assembly elections.
Both constituents of ‘Mahakutami’ or the grand alliance announced their candidates late on Monday.
While Congress released a list of 65 candidates, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) named nine.
The Congress, which is leading the four-party ‘Mahakutami’, plans to contest 95 seats, leaving the remaining for TDP, Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) and Communist Party of India (CPI).
However, a formal agreement over seat sharing was yet to be reached.
Former union ministers, former state ministers, former MPs, sitting legislators and those who crossed over to the Congress from other parties have been included in the list of 65 candidates.
State Congress chief Uttam Kumar Reddy would be seeking re-election from Huzurnagar constituency, while his wife Padmavati Reddy would again contest from Kodad.
Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader K. Jana Reddy (Nagarjunasagar) while its campaign committee chairman and working president Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka (Madhira), working presidents Ponnam Prabhakar and A. Revanth Reddy would be in the fray from Karimnagar and Kodangal seats.
Among former union ministers Sarve Satyanarayana (Secunderabad Cantonment), while P. Balram Naik (Mahabubabad). Leader of Opposition in Telangana Legislative Council, Mohammed Ali Shabbir is Congress candidate from Kamareddy.
Former Deputy Chief Minister and chairman of manifesto committee C. Damodar Rajanarasimha has been fielded from Andole.
Congress has named V. Pratap Reddy as its candidate against Chief Minister and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) president K. Chandrashekhar Rao in Gajwel.
Pratap Reddy who had contested on a TDP ticket against Rao and finished runners up in 2014. He has just joined the Congress.
The TDP has also announced its first list of candidates. Prominent among them are former MP and senior leader Nama Nageswara Rao (Khammam), R. Prakash Reddy (Warangal West) and S. Venkat Verraiah (Sattupalli).
Former minister T. Devender Goud’s son Virender Goud will contest from Uppal constituency. The lone Muslim candidate in the list is Muzaffar Ali, who will contest from Malakpet constituency in Hyderabad.
The 119-member Telangana Assembly will go to the polls on December 7 and the results will be announced on December 11.
(With inputs from agencies)