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Heatwave plays spoilsport in Telugu states as campaign enters final leg

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Hyderabad/Vijayawada, May 4: With just a week left for campaigning to end, the searing heat wave gripping both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is impacting the canvassing by the political parties.

Leaders of the main parties and the candidates are having a tough time running the campaign with maximum temperature at few places in Andhra Pradesh crossing 47 degree Celsius.

The heat wave has already claimed a few lives in both the Telugu states. The forecast by the Meteorological office shows that there will be no relief from the intense heatwave conditions in the next one week.

Health authorities in both states have already issued an advisory to people to avoid exposure to sun, especially between 12 noon and 3 p.m. However, the impact of the heat is seen from as early as 10 a.m. with the blazing sun forcing many to remain indoors and these conditions are continuing till 5 p.m.

The maximum temperature is breaking a new record every day in Andhra Pradesh. It reached 47.7 degrees Celsius in a couple of places in Nandyal district on Friday. A few places in Prakasam and YSR Kadapa districts also recorded a maximum temperature of more than 47 degrees.

The scorching heat has left the contestants hardly few hours to conduct their campaign. They are seen touring their constituencies in the morning to reach out to voters. They undertake padayatras during the morning hours or in the evening.

The parties are also facing a huge challenge in mobilising people for the public meetings of their top leaders. This is also forcing parties to cut down on the number of meetings, rallies and roadshows.

Simultaneous elections to the 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats are scheduled on May 13. The same day polling will be held in all 19 Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana.

It’s a race against time for national leaders and star campaigners of Congress and BJP. They are seen rushing from one public meeting to the other.

The parties are arranging large tents at the public meetings to protect the audience from the scorching sun.

In Telangana, the maximum temperature at a few places has crossed 46 degrees Celsius. The scorching heat has forced the parties to alter their campaign plans.

Telangana Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy is addressing 3-4 public meetings in a day. He is flying by helicopter to crisscross the constituencies.

Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K. Chandrasekhar Rao confines his campaign to evening hours. Currently, on bus yatra, the former chief minister addresses one or two public meetings daily.

Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, the BJP candidate from Chevella constituency who has been campaigning in the constituency for nearly two months, told IANS that in view of the heatwave conditions, he is starting early for campaigning. Covering villages in the constituency spread over rural segments in Ranga Reddy district abutting Hyderabad is a daunting task for the contestants.

Vishweshar Reddy suffered dehydration during the campaigning in Tandur segment a few days ago. “I had taken plenty of water but still had this problem. Drinking a lot of water also results in dehydration as it flushes out salt from the body,” said the BJP leader. He now carries water mixed with Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) as a precautionary measure.

Some leaders are carrying out their campaigns with hardly any break. In Hyderabad, AIMIM president and sitting MP Asaduddin Owaisi begins his “paidal daura” at 8 a.m. and this continues till 2 p.m. After a one-hour break, he resumes his visit at 3 p.m. covering lanes and by-lanes in the old city.

His brother and AIMIM leader in Telangana Assembly Akbaruddin Owaisi also walks through various areas in the constituency during the day. The Owaisi brothers then address two public meetings each between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

BJP candidate from Hyderabad K. Madhavi Latha is undertaking padyatras in the morning and evening to avoid the heat during day time.

The blazing sun has dampened the enthusiasm among party cadres as they are finding it difficult to mobilise people for public meetings. However, the paucity of time has left key campaigners with no option but to carry on the campaign.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is leading the YSR Congress Party campaign, is covering 2-3 districts every day as part of his bus yatra. His campaign includes both road shows and 2-3 public meetings.

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is flying by helicopter to address public meetings and hold road shows in 2-3 districts every day.

However, it is only the public meetings or road shows in the evening and the night that are drawing crowds.

As the campaigning can’t exceed beyond 10 p.m., the leaders are taking care not to violate the model code of conduct.

IANS

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