40-50 percent polling in Andhra by-elections (Lead)

May 29th, 2008 - 6:39 pm ICT by admin  

Hyderabad, May 29 (IANS) Barring minor incidents, by-elections in four Lok Sabha and 18 assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh proceeded peacefully Thursday. Election officials said about 40 to 50 percent votes were polled by 3 p.m. The total turnout is likely to go up to 60 percent.

The by-elections were caused by the resignations of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MPs and 16 state legislators to protest the delay in granting separate statehood to the state’s Telangana region.

The by-polls in two assembly constituencies were necessitated by the death of legislators of the ruling Congress party and main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

The by-elections, dubbed as referendum on the Telangana issue, are viewed as a semifinal before elections to the state assembly and the Lok Sabha next year.

Stray incidents of clashes among three parties and rigging were reported from some constituencies.

Hundreds of voters in several constituencies were angry over not finding their names in voters’ list. Some voters staged a sit-in in Adilabad Lok Sabha constituency.

TRS and TDP leaders accused ruling party of resorting to rigging in several areas. They also accused it of influencing the voters through money and liquor.

Lack of enthusiasm among voters marked the initial hours of polling.

The polling was dull but picked up by noon.

In all, 18 assembly constituencies are going to polls. A little over 8.6 million voters, half of them women, are eligible to cast their ballot through electronic voting machines in 9,072 polling stations.

The voters will decide the fate of 174 candidates in the field. For the Adilabad, Warangal, Hanamkonda and Karimnagar Lok Sabha constituencies, 29 candidates are in the fray. For the 16 assembly seats, 145 candidates are trying their luck.

Massive security arrangements have been made by the Election Commission. More than 63,000 policemen including personnel from central paramilitary forces have been deployed.

Tight security arrangements have been made in areas identified as hyper-sensitive, sensitive and extremist affected.

TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao is seeking re-election from the Karimnagar Lok Sabha seat. In the second by-election to the seat in less than a year, he faces Congress party’s T. Jeevan Reddy, who resigned as state minister to enter the fray.

In three assembly constituencies in the state capital, few voters were seen at polling stations in the morning. In Khairatabad, country’s largest assembly constituency in India with 1.6 million voters, the polling picked up by noon.

Telugu superstar Chiranjeevi, who is reportedly planning to launch a new political party, cast his vote in up market Jubliee Hills in Khairatabad constituency. His brother Pavan Kalyan and son Ramcharan Teja, both actors, also exercised their franchise.

Telugu film actor Murali Mohan could not find his name in the voting list in Khairatabad district and he had to return home without casting his vote.

In Musheerabad constituency in the state capital, where state minister Mukesh Goud roughed up Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) MP Madhu Wednesday evening, police have made elaborate security arrangements.

The minister for backward classes welfare manhandled the MP after an argument when the CPI-M was protesting against alleged distribution of money by the ruling party among voters.

Hours before polling, Congress activists in at least six constituencies were caught by rival parties distributing money and liquor bottles.

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