People of Seemandhra turned up in good numbers today as the last general elections of the undivided state got underway. "By 9 am – in the first two hours of polling, about 15% voter turnout was recorded," Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwar Lal said.
The highest was in Chittoor district at 21% and the lowest in East Godavari at 10.5%. Though there were complaints of EVM malfunctioning at some booths, they were immediately replaced, he said.
People wanted to vote early taking advantage of pleasant weather conditions in early hours and avoid scorching heat, officials said. People turned up early for voting because mercury levels have dipped thanks to rains in parts of Seemandhra yesterday, the CEO said.
YSR Congress leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy (Pulivendula), contesting for the assembly elections for the first time, was among the early voters in Seemandhra (Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra), where elaborated security arrangements had been made for peaceful conduct of polling, which began at 7 am.
Long queues were seen outside many booths of the region, which had seen fierce campaigning. More than 3.67 crore voters are eligible to cast ballot. A total of 333 candidates are in the fray for 25 Lok Sabha and 2,241 for 175 Assembly constituencies across 13 districts.
Besides Reddy, prominent candidates in the Assembly polls include TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu (Kuppam), his brother-in-law and actor N Balakrishna (Hindupur) and Seemandhra Congress chief N Raghuveera Reddy. Naidu, for whom today's election is clearly a do-or-die battle, after being out of power for a decade, had been representing Kuppam since 1989.
The main contest in majority of the constituencies is seen between YSR Congress and BJP-TDP combine, while the Congress is projected to be a distant third. Reddy and Naidu are eying to become the first Chief Minister of the residuary state.
On April 30, elections were held in Telangana, which is formally coming into being as a new state on June 2.
Seemandhra, as the two regions are together called, will come into being as separate state of Andhra Pradesh June 2 with the formation of Telangana region as a separate state.
As many as 335 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha elections while 2,241 contestants are testing their political fortunes in the assembly polls. Polling, which began at 7 am, will conclude at 4 pm in two Maoist affected assembly constituencies and at 5 p.m. in eight segments. In the remaining 165 constituencies, the polling will end at 6 pm.