Heavy turnout in polling for two Graduates’ MLC seats

Voters started thronging polling stations after 11 am in spite of gaps in arrangements; clear picture on polling percentage yet to emerge

Braving sun and bucking the trend of poor response in the past, graduate voters thronged the polling stations in large numbers, as in general elections, to exercise their right to franchise in the polling held for two Graduates’ constituencies in the Legislative Council on Sunday.

The polling was peaceful in all the 21 reorganised districts which make the erstwhile districts, except for a few complaints about attempts to influence the voters in different ways and means including the statements allegedly made by Home Minister Md. Mahamood Ali and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan. A complaint of attack on BJP candidate for Warangal-Nalgonda-Khammam constituency G. Premender Reddy and others by TRS activists was also lodged with officials.

The Election Commission has put the polling percentage tentatively at around 60% for Mahabubnagar-Rangareddy-Hyderabad constituency and about 74% for Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda constituency till 4 pm. However, the percentage is expected go up further as the voters who reached the polling stations and were in queues till 4 pm were allowed to cast their votes.

Slow beginning

Polling for the two MLC seats began on slow note as only about 8% of the registered electorate cast their votes in the first two hours of polling – till 10 am. However, the polling picked after 11 am as the voters started thronging the police stations from 11 am as they were seen standing in long queues as many polling stations across the two constituencies.

The polling percentage crossed 39% in in M-R-H and 43.5% in W-K-N constituencies by 2 pm. Voters complained of lack of shade (tents) and drinking water and were forced to wait under the scorching sun for hours as only 10-15 votes per hour were polled initially. The voters found it difficult to identify their choice of candidates for three preference votes as the ballot papers were very large. A total of 93 candidates are in fray for M-R-H constituency and 71 for W-K-N constituency.

Tension prevailed at Nellikuduru in Mahabubabad district for some time where the activists of BJP and TRS indulged in an altercation and jostling on the arrival of BJP candidate G. Premender Reddy at the polling station to enquire about the polling trend. The police intervened and prevented escalation of the incident by dispersing the two sides. Mr. Premender Reddy alleged that the TRS activists attacked him and his supporters.

Speaking after going around a few polling stations to oversee the polling trend and arrangements, Chief Electoral Officer Shashank Goel said complaints were received by election officials on the alleged attack on BJP candidate and influencing of voters. Reports were sought from the Returning Officers and police so that necessary action could be initiated.

However, Panchayat Raj Minister Errabelli Dayakar Rao, who spoke at Hanmakonda, denied BJP allegation. He said the TRS ranks were told to advocate utmost restraint by the leadership, in spite of provocations by the BJP and Congress, and they followed the same. The ballot boxes of M-R-H constituency were shifted to the Indoor Stadium at Saroornagar here and those of W-K-N were taken to the market yard godown at Nalgonda. The counting of votes will be taken up on March 17.

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