VIJAYAWADA: Andhra Pradesh has registered an overall 62.28 per cent polling in elections held for urban local bodies throughout the state on Wednesday. The voting percentage is expected to go up further. Both State Election Commission (SEC) and municipal administration authorities had not got the final polling tallies from the districts till 7 p.m.
Polls were held in 12 municipal corporations and 71 municipalities / Nagar panchayats. The average percentage of polling was 11.71 at 9.00 a.m., 32.23 at 11.00 a.m., 42.84 at 1.00 p.m., 53.57 at 3.00 p.m. and 62.28 at 5.00 p.m.
Municipalities and Nagar panchayats witnessed a higher turnout of voters given the fact that out of 29,47,027 voters, 20,82,283 exercised their franchise, registering a poll percentage of 70.66. However, polling was relatively lesser in the 12 municipal corporations, as out of 48,09,173 voters, only 27,48,013 turned up at polling stations to cast their vote, recording a poll percentage of 57.14. Overall, out of 77,56,200 voters, only 48,30,296 voters cast their vote, indicating a provisional poll percentage of 62.28.
East Godavari district registered the highest voting in the state at 75.93 per cent. Kurnool was lowest at 56.83 per cent. The rest of the poll percentages are Srikakulam – 71.52, Vizianagaram – 68.22, Visakhapatnam – 56.83, West Godavari – 62.02, Krishna – 61.31, Guntur – 61.77, Prakasam – 75.49, Nellore – 71.06, Anantapur – 66.11, Kadapa – 65.01 and Chittoor – 62.21.
Among the 12 municipal corporations, Ongole registered the highest poll percentage at 75.52 while Kurnool the lowest of 49.26. The rest include Vizianagaram (63.98 per cent), GVMC (56.01), Eluru (56.33), Machilipatnam (71.14), Vijayawada (56.81), Guntur (57.15), Anantapur (56.41), Kadapa (54.85), Chittoor (66.06) and Tirupati (53.44 per cent).
SEC N. Ramesh Kumar asserted that municipal elections concluded in a free and fair manner with exception of a few stray incidents. For the first time, no re-poll has been necessitated in both civic bodies as also the recently concluded gram panchayat elections. However, there were a few instances of poll-related violence. Reports have been called from concerned collectors and SPs in this regard.
The election commissioner said the counting of votes will be taken up on March 14. Election of mayors and deputy mayors for municipal corporations and chairperson and vice-chairpersons for municipalities / Nagar panchayats will be held at the earliest, he stated.
Separately, director-general of police Gautam Sawang said polling went off peacefully even though a large number of voters turned up at polling stations to cast their votes. He congratulated the police department for making all necessary arrangements for the conduct of smooth polls. The DGP maintained there were no major untoward incidents. He said police had bound over several persons having criminal antecedents in advance. They also kept a close vigil on the distribution of money and liquor. This helped them conduct polls peacefully and successfully.
In Visakhapatnam, TD MLA Velagapudi Ramakrishna Babu and Telugu Nadu Students Front leader Pranav Gopal were taken into preventive custody by police when they entered the 100-metre prohibited area at a polling booth in Division 21 of China Waltair. They were subsequently released on self-bail.
Visakhapatnam Ukku Parirakshana Committee, which is spearheading the movement against privatisation of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, suspended its agitation on Wednesday for enabling steel plant employees to take part in the municipal elections.
In Nellore district, residents of Nukalapalem in Sullurpet municipality boycotted the election in protest against the merger of their village with the civic body.
At Eluru municipal corporation in West Godavari district, deputy chief minister and health minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas was unable to cast his vote, as his name went missing from the electoral rolls. Scores of other voters faced a similar fate.
In East Godavari district, police took into custody supporters of both BJP and Telugu Desam while they were distributing money to voters in Ramachandrapuram and Peddapuram municipalities. Ramachandrapuram police arrested seven BJP supporters and seized Rs. 37,000 from them. Peddapuram police seized Rs. 60,500 from TD supporters in ward number 27.