Hyderabad, (IANS) About 65 to 70 percent voters cast their ballots Tuesday in by-elections held amid tight security in the Nellore Lok Sabha and 18 assembly constituencies in Andhra Pradesh, officials said.
The Nellore Lok Sabha constituency registered 68 percent voting till reports last came in. Among the assembly segments, Parkala recorded the highest turnout of 84 percent while the lowest of 55 percent was registered in Tirupati. Four assembly constituencies recorded 80 percent turnout.
However, the final polling figures are likely to be available late in the evening as voters standing in queues at 5 p.m. were being allowed to cast their votes.
Enthusiasm among voters, especially among women marked the by-elections. All the three major parties claimed that the heavy turnout brightened their prospects.
Barring minor incidents of violence, the polling remained peaceful in all the constituencies spread over 12 districts.
Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal told reporters in Hyderabad that the voting was by and large peaceful.
Braving scorching heat, voters turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise at most of the 5,413 polling stations.
Police resorted to baton charge on a group of people who were bringing voters to the polling stations in auto rickshaws at Atmakur in Parkala constituency in Warangal district. Protesting the police action, people damaged a police vehicle.
In Payakaraopet, angry voters attacked election staff after they found their names missing from voters’ lists. In Ongole, two election officers were removed from duty after they allegedly appealed to voters to cast their votes for the YSR Congress Party.
People in two villages of the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency boycotted the election to register their protest over the failure of authorities to solve their local problems.
Clashes between Congress and YSR Congress Party workers were reported from Udaigiri and Ongole.
The Election Commission made elaborate arrangements to ensure free, fair and peaceful polls, billed as the semi-final before the 2014 elections.
About 50,000 security personnel, mostly from the armed Central Reserve Police Force, were deployed while almost an equal number of polling staff were on duty.
Over 46 lakh voters were eligible to exercise franchise to decide the political fortunes of 255 candidates, 13 of them in the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency.
Designated video graphers and micro observers recorded the process of voting at each polling station. The election officials monitored the polling through live web casting.
The counting of votes will be taken up Friday.
Most of the constituencies witnessed triangular contests among the ruling Congress party, the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).
Parkala was the only assembly constituency in Telangana which went to the polls and the other major contenders here were the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The by-polls were necessitated by the resignation of one MP and disqualification of 17 rebels of the Congress who switched loyalties to the YSR Congress Party. The Tiruapti assembly seat fell vacant following the election of film actor-turned-legislator Chiranjeevi to the Rajya Sabha.
The stakes are high for all the three major parties among whom the YSR Congress Party is seen as a front-runner. The party hopes to benefit from the sympathy wave in its favour following the arrest of its leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy by the CBI on corruption charges.
The by-polls earned the notoriety of being the worst in terms of seizure of unaccounted cash and valuables. The election officials said cash and valuables worth Rs.56 crore were seized during the campaign, a record in the state’s history.
About two lakh litres of liquor was also seized by the authorities during the last 15 days.
Though the by-elections were billed as a fight between corruption and honesty in the wake of Jaganmohan Reddy’s arrest, the parties openly distributed cash, gold rings, saris and other valuables among voters to win them over.