Cane-charging, stone-throwing, fisticuffs, suspension of polling officials marked the most spirited polling of recent times as the by-elections to 18 Assembly and 1 Lok Sabha constituencies got underway this morning.
Termed as the ‘semi-final’ to the crucial 2014 general elections, the bypoll, is a do-or-die for the arraigned YSRC chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. The polling was so animated that by 11.25 am the chief electoral officer Banwarlal declared an overall 30 per cent polling. The highest was recorded at Udayagiri Assembly constituency (33 per cent). As many as 46 lakh voters are expected to exercise their franchise at 5,413 polling stations set up in the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency and 18 assembly segments, spread over 12 districts in the State.
A pall of gloom fell over Marripadu Mandal, Nellore, when an aged woman voter died of an apparent heart-stroke in the polling booth. Polling however, went on. Tension prevailed in Nandavaram Mandal of Kurnool where YSRC and Congress activists indulged in stone-throwing. As the police warning went unheeded and cops resorted to lathi charge in which half a dozen people suffered bruises. The situation was brought under control with police reinforcement.
In another incident of violence, Rajannapet at Visakhaptnam witnessed mob clashes. Again, the police had to resort to cane charging to disperse the worked-up people. Elsewhere, in Ananthapur at KSR college, YSRC and TDP activists clashed during voting. Two polling officers were suspended in Ongole. Around mid-morning violence broke out in Kadappa railway Koduru as the police and mobs clashed. Many dhoti-clad men showed bruise marks to the media.
EVM’s were not working in many districts. Four fake EVMs were seized in Tirupati at Balaji Colony. The driver of the car and another person were arrested in this connection.
In Srikakulam, also polling was stalled for a while because of faulty EVMs. CEO Banwarlal said 16 of 5,413 EVM machines were replaced as they were found faulty. However, polling was not hampered. Voters’ photo identity cards were mismanaged and the authorities did not permit the voters to cast their votes in Tirupati. Elsewhere, police in Ongole did not allow the media to reach the polling stations, refusing to accept the media passes issued by election comissioner.In Kadapa, Lakkireddypally ex-MLA Ramesh Reddy was kept under house arrest to prevent poll mischief.