Hyderabad: By and large, polling for urban local bodies in the state has concluded peacefully, barring minor scuffles between activists of the ruling TRS and opposition parties.
According to the State Election Commission (SEC), an average of 71.37 per cent polling was recorded in 120 municipalities and nine municipal corporations till 5 pm on Wednesday. The highest turnout was seen in Pochampally municipality — 95.13 per cent — and the lowest was 39.65 per cent in the Nizampet Municipal Corporation where large numbers of IT professionals live.
Polling for the by-election in Dabeerpura — Ward 30 of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation — saw a very low turnout. Out of 39,445 voters, barely 27.4 per cent exercised their franchise.
Voting started at 7 am and got off to a slow start. It gathered pace after 9 am with large numbers of voters turning up at polling stations. The polling percentage is expected to reach 75 per cent when the final reports reach the SEC late Wednesday.
The total number of voters in the 129 urban local bodies (ULBs) is 49,74,589 which includes 24,89,698 male, 24,84,587 female and 313 others.
Reports claim BJP taking second place
The SEC said that till 5 pm, 35, 50,483 voters had exercised their franchise across the state. Reports coming in from across the state indicate that the TRS is the front runner in a majority of ULBs, with the BJP in second place in municipal corporations and the Congress in third place. However, Congress candidates have put up a tough fight against the TRS in many municipalities such as Nalgonda, Mahabubnagar, Ranga Reddy, Adilabad and Malkajgiri-Medhcal districts.
Probably the most bizarre incident of the elections occurred in Bodhan town where a TRS candidate’s nose was bitten by a Congress candidate during an argument over double votes in polling at the 32 wards in the town.
About 21 cases of poll violations were recorded by the end of the day, said the police.
Arguments and counter-arguments took place between candidates and their followers on distributing money. The police immediately swung into action and dispersed the two groups. At Alampur in Jogulamba Gadwal district, the police had to use force to disperse MIM and Congress followers who were in a heated argument, and in Peddamberpet, the police detained people of two groups who were arguing about whether a voter was a resident of the area and should or should not be allowed to cast his vote. Polling officials inside a polling booth in ward 19 in Jangaon town reported a youth to the police after he took a selfie on his mobile phone while casting his vote. Police arrested the young man and booked a case against him. With voting ending peacefully, the SEC is making arrangements for counting of votes on January 25 and also for elections in the Karimnagar Municipal Corporation on January 24.
State election commissioner V. Nagireddy cautioned in a press communiqué that no exit polls must be published until polling is completed in Karimnagar. He said 45,000 staff participated in conducting the elections and 50,000 policemen were deployed. He said that if any unethical practices or ‘Tender Votes’ are reported, then a re-polling will be ordered by the SEC. A voter can seek to cast a Tender Vote, if his or her name is either missing from the list or if their votes had been caste by other persons....