Polling begins on dull note in Andhra Pradesh by-elections

May 29th, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by admin  

Hyderabad, May 29 (IANS) Polling began Thursday on a dull but peaceful note amid tight security in four Lok Sabha and 18 assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh. The by-elections were caused by the resignation of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) MPs and 16 state legislators to protest the delay in granting separate statehood to the 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 Telangana issue, are viewed as a semifinal before elections to the state assembly and the Lok Sabha next year.

Election authorities said 15 to 20 percent votes were cast in the first three hours. No untoward incident was reported from any constituency.

Lack of enthusiasm among voters marked the initial hours of polling. Many polling centres were deserted in the first hour. However, the turnout increased in the next two hours.

In all, 42 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 9072 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 the personnel from central paramilitary forces have been deployed.

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

In three assembly constituencies in the state capital, few voters were seen at polling stations. In Khairatabad, country’s largest assembly constituency in India with 1.6 million voters, the polling was dull.

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

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