In the polls marred by violence that even turned fatal at a couple of places, and glitches in the electronic voting machines, Andhra Pradesh made history of sorts as voting continued till midnight at some polling booths. The overall turnout touched 80 per cent.
With people still standing in queues at 6 pm, the deadline set by the Election Commission, to cast their votes, authorities at some booths in Guntur, Krishna, Nellore and Kurnool districts allowed polling to continue till midnight.
At least 25 incidents of violence were reported from different places as simultaneous elections were conducted for the 175-member Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats.
In Mangalagiri constituency in Guntur district, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s son and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) candidate Nara Lokesh staged a protest alleging failure of the election authorities to make proper arrangements. There was a counter protest too by opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP).
There was tension in Vijayawada and Kurnool too due to clashes between rival groups.
One worker each from the TDP and the YSRCP were killed in violence in Anantapur and Chitoor districts. Senior TDP leader and Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasad Rao was among those injured in the clashes.
Chief Electoral Officer Gopal Krishna Dwivedi said Thursday evening 74 per cent polling had been recorded till 6 pm, adding that the overall percentage could go up to 80.
He acknowledged that representations for re-poll at some booths had been received from various parties, and said the Election Commission would take a decision in this regard after going through available records, evidence and reports of the poll officials concerned.
Polling ended in three Maoist-affected Assembly segments at 4 pm and in three others at 5 pm.
EVM glitches and clashes between groups led to delay at about 400 polling stations in different parts of the state, according to reports.
CM and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu expressed his unhappiness over the matter and wrote a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, demanding repoll in 150 booths.
In Andhra Pradesh, the TDP and the YSRCP are locked in a direct fight, while Jana Sena of actor Pawan Kalyan has also thrown its hat in the ring in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Left parties. Mainstream parties BJP and Congress contested all seats on their own.
There were 319 candidates in all for the Lok Sabha seats and 2,118 candidates for the Assembly seats whose fate were decided by a little over 3.93 crore voters.
As many as 46,120 polling stations has been set up and nearly 4 lakh personnel deployed.
Among the key candidates for the Assembly seats are Chandrababu Naidu, YSRCP president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Pawan Kalyan, Nara Lokesh, Naidu’s brother-in-law and actor N Balakrishna and state Congress chief Raghuveera Reddy. In 2014, TDP had bagged 102 seats, its then ally BJP four and YSRCP 67 seats.
Prominent Lok Sabha contestants this time include former Union ministers Kishore Chandra Deo, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Kotla Surya Prakash Reddy (all TDP), M.M. Pallam Raju and J.D. Seelam (Congress), D. Purandeswari (BJP), state BJP chief Kanna Lakshminarayana and former CBI joint director V.V. Lakshminarayana (Jana Sena). TDP had bagged 15 seats in 2014 and BJP got two seats. YSRCP won eight.
(With agency inputs)