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73% polling in Andhra Pradesh despite stone pelting, EVM damage; TDP, YSRC claim 3 deaths in violence

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Abhinav Gupta | Updated on: 11 Apr 2019, 08:52:34 PM
Chandrababu Naidu and his family members show their finger marked with indelible ink after casting vote


An impressive turnout of over 73 per cent was recorded Thursday in the single phase assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh amid stray violence involving the ruling TDP and YSRC cadres that reportedly left three people dead.

Incidents of EVM damage and stone pelting marked the high octane polling that saw a large number out of the over 3.97 crore eligible voters turning up braving the scorching summer heat.

Polling was held on Thurday simultaneously for 175 Assembly seats featuring 2,118 candidates and 25 Lok Sabha seats having 319 contestants.

The fate of incumbent chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and main opposition YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy, son of late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, was sealed as the curtains came down on the first ever general elections after bifurcation of the state to create Telangana in 2014.

Other contenders include the Congress, BJP and the Jana Sena of Pawan Kalyan, who has tied up with BSP.

Official sources said clashes between TDP and YSRC workers were reported in Guntur, Anantapuramu, West Godavari, Prakasam, Kurnool and Kadapa districts, but did not specify deaths.

The polling was not affected in any place, they said.

Police also did not confirm the election-related killings.

Telugu Desam and YSR Congress issued statements reporting the deaths of their party members accusing each other of being responsible for the violence.

While about 73 per cent of polling was reported by closing time at 6 pm, authorities expect the final figure likely to cross 80 per cent. The state had recorded 76 per cent polling in 2014.

The ruling TDP raised a hue and cry over malfunctioning of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and blamed the Election Commission for failing to conduct the elections properly.

Chandrababu Naidu went to the extent of claiming that 30 per cent of the EVMs encountered problems across the state, a charge the EC denied.

All allegations against the Election Commission are completely motivated. There was nothing amiss with the electronic gadgets though about 0.3 per cent of EVMs encountered technical glitches, state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Gopal Krishna Dwivedi said.

The YSRC said one of its workers was attacked with sickles by the TDP men and killed in Veerapuram village under Tadipatri constituency in Anantapuramu district while another was done to death in Tamballapalle in Chittoor district.

The TDP said its worker Sidda Bhaskar Reddy was killed by the opposition party in Veerapuram.

Five other people were injured in the violent clash in Veerapuram.

Commenting on the violence, a top election official told reporters: The police have prepared a preliminary report based on reports in the media. They are verifying the facts.

Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, who is seeking re-election from Sattenapalli constituency, claimed he was attacked by the rival YSRC workers.

The TDP leaders made a beeline to the CEO's office in the Secretariat here and lodged a series of complaints against the YSRC.

The chief minister released a video message denouncing the YSRCs atrocities and also the 'malfunctioning' of EVMs.

After 6 pm, he issued a statement expressing regret over the inconvenience caused to voters due to EVMs and thanking people for exercising their franchise.

EC sources said in all 381 EVMs encountered technical problems but the engineers either rectified the devices or replaced them, ensuring polling was not affected.

CEO Dwivedi rejected claims that votes cast in certain EVMs for one party were getting polled for another.

These are plain rumours. Nothing of that sort has happened anywhere, he asserted.

Meanwhile, five EVMs were damaged by miscreants in different incidents.

In Guntakal, former MLA and contesting candidate of Jana Sena Party, Madhusudan Gupta, smashed an EVM in a fit of rage alleging that party symbols were not properly printed on the ballot unit.

He also shouted at the polling personnel on duty.

Gupta was immediately taken into custody.

EVMs were also damaged in one polling station each in Kadapa, Anantapuramu, Guntur and Srikakulam districts.

In all these incidents, we have registered cases against the culprits and taken them into custody. Legal action will follow, the CEO said.

All the damaged EVMs were immediately replaced and polling continued, he added.

A mandal parishad member of YSRC was seriously injured when TDP workers allegedly attacked him at a polling station in Eluru city.

In Jammalamadugu in Kadapa district, tension prevailed in Ponnathota village as YSRC and TDP workers indulged in stone-throwing.

In Narsaraopet constituency in Guntur district, YSRC leaders alleged TDP men ransacked a polling station in Yelamanda village and damaged the furniture.

Chandrababu Naidu, who has been aiming to play a key role in national politics, and his family members exercised their franchise at a polling station in Undavalli village in state capital region Amaravati.

His son Nara Lokesh, incidentally, is the TDP candidate from Mangalagiri Assembly segment that covers Undavalli.

Talking to reporters, the Chief Minister referred to technical glitches in EVMs and said he was demanding that ballot papers be re-introduced.

Chief minister aspirant Jaganmohan Reddy cast his vote in his native Pulivendula in Kadapa district, from where he is seeking re-election.

(With PTI inputs)

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First Published : 11 Apr 2019, 08:52:30 PM