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Polling at few booths in simultaneous LS/Assembly polls in Andhra Pradesh continues even after 9 pm

Voting at a few polling stations in Andhra Pradesh continued even after 9 p.m. on Monday as simultaneous elections to 175-member state Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats evoked an enthusiastic response from the voters.

Amid sporadic incidents of violence, the state recorded a turnout of 68.04 per cent till 5 p.m. Though the polling time ended at 6 p.m. in 169 Assembly segments, election authorities allowed those standing in queues to cast their votes.

In some places, the process was on even after three hours.

The polling process at about 3,500 centres continued beyond 6 p.m. Officials said the final polling figure would be available only on Tuesday.

As per the polling figures available till 5 p.m., the Chittoor Lok Sabha constituency recorded the highest turnout of 79.90 per cent while the lowest was 58.20 per cent in Araku.

Among Assembly seats, GD Nellore saw the highest turnout of 79.90 per cent. The lowest was 52 per cent in Kurupam.

More than 4.14 crore voters were eligible to cast their votes at 46,389 centres to decide the political fortunes of 2,841 candidates.

The polling, which began at 7 a.m., concluded in the Left-Wing Extremist (LWE) affected segments of Araku, Paderu, and Rampachodavaram at 4 p.m. and in three other LWE-affected segments of Palakonda, Kurupam, and Salur at 5 p.m.

In the 2019 elections, the state had recorded 79.84 per cent polling. Chief Minister and YSR Congress Party President Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Jana Sena leader and actor Pawan Kalyan were among 2,387 candidates for 175 Assembly seats.

For the 25 Lok Sabha, 454 contestants were in the fray and prominent among them were state BJP chief and TDP founder and CM N.T. Rama Rao’s daughter D. Purandeswari (Rajahmundry), state Congress President Y.S. Sharmila Reddy (Kadapa) and former Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy (BJP, Rajampet).

Polling was marred by sporadic incidents of violence in the state. There were clashes between supporters of the ruling YSRCP and the TDP in a few places. Clashes were reported from Palnadu, Krishna, Ongole, Nandyal, Manyam, NTR, Annamayya, Anantapur, Kadapa and other districts.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) M. K. Meena said the polling percentage has gone up this time. He said lighting arrangements were made at polling stations to enable people standing in queues at 6 p.m. to cast their votes.

He said reports were received about 12 violent incidents in Palnadu district. Both the TDP and the YSRCP accused each other of indulging in rigging and resorting to violence. The TDP alleged that scores of its workers were injured in the attacks by YSRCP supporters at various places.

In Tenali in Guntur district, YSRCP MLA and candidate for Assembly elections, A. Sivakumar attacked a voter at a polling station. The voter raised an objection when the YSRCP MLA allegedly jumped the line. After a heated exchange, the YSRCP leader slapped him. When the voter hit the MLA back, the latter’s supporters thrashed him. The incident sent panic among voters, including women.

The YSRCP, however, said Sivakumar went to the polling booth after receiving information that women voters were harassed by TDP workers. It alleged that TDP workers abused Sivakumar as well, which led to the clash.

Tension gripped Tadipatri in Anantapur as the supporters of the YSRCP and the TDP clashed near a polling booth. Both the groups pelted stones at each other, injuring a BSF jawan.

TDP chief Naidu wrote a letter to the Election Commission that over 120 incidents of violence were reported during the polling. He alleged that at all places, it was the YSRCP leaders who resorted to violence and that police acted with bias.

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