Heavy polling was recorded in the Telangana Assembly elections on Friday, with officials reporting 48 percent voter turnout by 1 pm.
According to information reaching Hyderabad, 48.09 per cent of over 2.8 crore voters had cast their votes in the first four hours.
The polling, which began on a dull note at 7 am, picked up in the last two hours. Long queues of voters including women were seen especially in rural areas.
Chief Electoral Officer Rajath Kumar said the polling was peaceful and smooth.
Polling was on in all the 119 constituencies — 32,815 polling stations spread across 31 districts — in the first full-fledged elections in India’s youngest state.
In some polling centres, the process started late due to technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).
Of the total electorate, nearly half are women. There are 1,821 candidates, including Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao and his 14 cabinet colleagues.
Rajath Kumar said polling will continue till 5 pm except in 13 Left Wing Extremism affected constituencies where it will end an hour early.
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief cast his vote in his village in Siddipet district and exuded confidence that his party will retain power with a huge majority.
Rao, who is contesting from Gajwel constituency in the same district, told the media: “People are pro-incumbency. You will come know by the evening when exit polls will be out,”
Governor ESL Narasimhan and his wife exercised the franchise near Raj Bhavan.
Congress Telangana unit chief Uttam Kumar Reddy voted in Kodad constituency. BJP’s state unit chief K. Laxman and AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi did so in Hyderabad.
Over 50,000 security personnel, including 18,860 from neighbouring states and central forces, were deployed as part of the security arrangements.
Over 1.50 lakh polling personnel were on duty to conduct the polling process. As many as 55,329 EVMs and 39,763 control units were in use.
For the first time, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) were installed across the state. The authorities have arranged 42,751 VVPATs, which are attached to the EVMs and will display for seven seconds the choice made by the voter.
The elections were expected to be a close contest between the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is contesting all seats on its own, and the Congress-led People’s Front that includes Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Communist Party of India and Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS).
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the third key force in some constituencies. The Bahujan Left Front led by the Communist Party of India-Marxist and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are also contesting majority of the seats.
The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is contesting eight seats in Hyderabad.
The TRS opted for dissolution of the Assembly in September, eight months before its term was to end.
(With agency inputs)