Over 70 percent turnout, clashes mark polling in Seemandhra



Over 70 percent of 36.76 million voters cast their votes to choose their representatives from 25 Lok Sabha and 175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh's Seemandhra region where high turnout and sporadic clashes marked Wednesday's balloting. Around 20 people were injured in clashes between activists of rival parties.

Polling came to an end in two Maoist-affected assembly constituencies at 4 p.m. and in eight other constituencies at 5 p.m. In the remaining assembly constituencies, the polling ended at 6 p.m.

Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal said 71.09 percent polling was recorded till 5 p.m. He said those standing in the queues at 6 p.m. were also allowed to vote.

Guntur district recorded highest polling at 74 percent, while Visakhapatnam district registered lowest polling at 67 percent.

Suspected Maoists damaged two electronic voting machines (EVMs) in a polling centre in Paderu constituency in Visakhapatnam district. The five attackers including a woman also damaged a government vehicle.

"We have recommended to the Election Commission to order repolling," Bhanwarlal said. The CEO said barring this incident, the polling was smooth and peaceful.

Six people were injured in a clash between YSR Congress Party and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) activists in Parachur in Prakasam district.

Three police vehicles were damaged in an attack by villagers in Devagudi in Jammalamadugu of Kadapa district.

Inspector General of Police Surender Babu said two policemen were injured in the attack. He said some police officials who were returning after visiting some polling centres were also assaulted.

He said the officials were targeted by some people as they had ensured presence of polling agents of all the parties at few polling stations.

TDP candidate in Narasaraopet Lok Sabha constituency R.Sambasiva Rao's convoy was attacked allegedly by YSRCP supporters. The TDP leader was escorted to safety by his security guards while his vehicle was damaged in the attack.

Clashes were also reported from Anantapur, Chittoor and Guntur districts. Details about the other injured were not immediately known.

Director General of Police Prasada Rao said polling was peaceful barring minor incidents in some places.

Long queues were seen since early morning at most of 40,709 polling stations in 13 districts.

As many as 36.76 million people were eligible to vote in nine districts in coastal Andhra and four in Rayalaseema.

Seemandhra, as the two regions are together called, will come into being as a separate state of Andhra Pradesh June 2 with the formation of Telangana.

As many as 335 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha while 2,241 contestants are testing their political fortunes in the assembly polls.

Over 100,000 police personnel and 272 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed as part of the security arrangements.

Poll officials are keeping tight vigil in certain areas notorious for electoral malpractice.

The most prominent among the contestants for the Lok Sabha are cabinet ministers and Congress leaders Kishore Chandra Deo (Araku) and Pallam Raju (Kakinada), YSR Congress honorary president Y.S.Vijayamma (Visakhapatnam) and former central minister D. Purandeswari of BJP (Rajampet).

In the assembly polls for Seemandhra, chief ministerial hopeful and TDP state president N. Chandrababu Naidu is contesting from Kuppam assembly constituency.

Another chief ministerial aspirant and YSR Congress president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is fighting his first assembly election from the family stronghold of Pulivendula.- IANS