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Andhra Pradesh election 2019: Death of TDP worker in clash with YSRC, faulty EVMs mar polling; 75% turnout till 6 pm

Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh: Andhra Pradesh saw 75 percent turnout till 6 pm in phase one of the polling even as clashes between the workers of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress claimed the life of a ruling party functionary in Anantapur district in phase 1 of polling.

Andhra Pradesh chief electoral officer Gopal Dwivedi said the turnout could climb to as high as 80 percent as voters were still in line at many places . Any decision on repolling would be taken tomorrow, he added.

 

Andhra Pradesh is one of four states where voting is being held simultaneously for the state Assembly and the Lok Sabha. On Thursday, 175 Assembly seats and 25 Lok Sabha seats went to the polls.

Incidents of violence occurred between rival political parties in Rayalaseema and Palnadu region. Tadipatri Assembly segment in Rayalseema saw a clash that claimed the life of TDP member Chinta Bhaskar Reddy and left four others critically injured. Sitting MP JC Diwakar Reddy of the ruling party is testing his fortunes in Tadipatri.

Tourism minister Akhila Priya’s husband Bhargav and her sister Mounika reportedly sustained injuries in an incident of stone-pelting allegedly carried out by the followers of her rival YSR Congress candidate Gangula Bijendranath Reddy at Atmakuru under Allagadda Assembly seat in Kurnool district. This was followed by a protest where the minister accused YSR Congress leaders of kidnapping her followers. However, the minister later told press none of her family members were injured.

Multiple people were injured in clashes reported in Rapthadu Assembly constituency in Anantapur, Jammalamadugu in Kadapa district, Sattenapalli in Palnadu region and Eluru Assembly segment in West Godavari district.

The areas affected by Left-Wing Extremism in East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts, which share borders with Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, voted under the shadow of gun-toting security personnel entrusted with containing the Maoist threat.

Sitting lawmaker Kadari Sarveswara Rao and another former MLA Siveri Soma were shot dead by Maoists in Araku of Visakhapatnam district six months ago. A huge contingent of security personnel stepped up combing operations over the past 20 days to defuse the threat of Maoists. Polling in the Maoist-affected areas began only after 10 am due to fault in the electronic voting machines. Kidari’s son and state minister for health Kidari Sravan Kumar is the TDP candidate in Araku.

Aftermath of a killing

TDP leader and state minister Adinarayana Reddy, who is contesting the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat, was unable to campaign in any of the seven Assembly segments falling under the Parliament seat in the aftermath of the killing of YSR Congress boss Jaganmohan Reddy’s uncle YS Vivekananda Reddy. Jagan has accused Adinarayana Reddy and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu of plotting the murder of his uncle to demoralise his party cadre before the elections.

A TDP leader from Kadapa district, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Adinarayana Reddy could not step into Pulivendula from where the YSR Congress chief is wishing to go to the Assembly, fearing a backlash from the rival group since the murder of Vivekanda.

In Sattenapalli Assembly constituency in the Palnadu region of Guntur district, Assembly Speaker and TDP candidate Kodela Siva Prasada Rao fainted after being attacked in a clash with YSR Congress cadre. Angry YSR Congress cadre sought to prevent Rao's entry into a polling station, which triggered a clash.

Andhra Pradesh director general of police RP Thakur said Thursday’s polling was more peaceful and incident-free than 2014. He claimed this time, there was no Maoist violence and even factional violence, barring 'minor' incidents”.

Andhra Pradesh's chief electoral officer Gopalakrishna Dwivedi said the Election Commission (EC) has taken a serious view of poll-related violence and will bring the guilty to book. TDP spokesperson Panchumarthi Anuradha said the YSR Congress cadre had exposed their criminal persona by assaulting Rao and killing their party functionary in Tadipatri.

Meanwhile, YSR Congress MLA candidate in Dhone of Kurnool district alleged that the TDP was spreading falsehoods about his party. He alleged that in fact, TDP workers killed his party activist in Tambalapalli of Chittoor district during polling.

The author is a Vijayawada-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com

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Updated Date: Apr 11, 2019 22:59:45 IST

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