Vote rigging, attacks on candidates and clashes between political parties marked polling in Seemandhra region on Wednesday even as voters turned out in large numbers. Turnout, until 5pm, was nearly 74 per cent, and expected to increase as long queues were witnessed at almost all the 40,708 polling booths across the 13 Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra districts.
Apart from Maoist raids in two locations in Visakhapatnam district, Wednesday witnessed street fights between TDP and YSR Congress (YSRC) members. YSRC assembly candidate Bhumana Karunakar Reddy attacked his TDP counterpart, Venkataramana.
YSRC workers also attacked another TDP candidate, Ramsubba Reddy, at Jammamadugu. They also stoned TDP Narasaraopeta Parliament candidate Rayapati Sambashiv Rao, attacked Marduk TDP assembly candidate Putta Sudhakar's car and injured a police sub inspector in Kadapa. BJP Rajampet Parliament candidate Purandeswari staged a dharna at a polling booth in Sadum in Chittoor district.
Analysts and political observers said that the poll battle is between the TDP and the YSRC, and that other players such as the BJP, Congress and the Jai Samaikyandhra Party of former chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy have been marginalised.
"The pulse of the voters is difficult to understand," said former CM Kiran on the polling trend.
But TDP president Chandrababu Naidu appeared confident and spoke to alliance partner BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi. "The trend is in our favour but we have to fight bitterly against YSRC's gimmicks and tricks," said Chandrababu.