The crucial by-elections to one Lok Sabha and 18 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh witnessed a massive turnout of voters as more than 70 percent of 4.6 million voters across 12 districts exercised their franchise on Tuesday.
Helped by pleasant weather, a large number of voters started queuing up outside the polling stations right from the morning and there were long queues even after 5 pm at many places. The Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwar Lal said that all those who reached the polling stations before 5 pm will be allowed to vote.
Though stray incidents of violence continued till late in the evening, the day passed off with out any major violent incidents.
In Ongole town, tension prevailed following the clash between the workers of the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress. The altercation outside a polling station led to a clash with the TDP workers trying to attack the YSRC candidate B Srinivas Reddy and a van of Sakshi TV channel, which is owned by jailed YSR Congress Party chief Jaganmohan Reddy.
In Tirupati too a senior YSRC leader Ch Bhaskar Reddy was arrested on the charges of creating trouble outside a polling station.
However, there were reports of voters boycotting the poll process in nine villages.
In Nellore Lok Sabha constituency more than 500 voters of two villages boycotted the polling in protest against the acquisition of lands for a Special Economic Zone.
In Rayachoti constituency in Kadapa district, stones were pelted at the local Telugu Desam Party leader's house leading to some tension.
In Urakonda village in Parkal angry voters damaged a police vehicle after the cops beat up some of the voters who came to a polling station in a jeep.
The villagers got angry when a woman fell from the jeep in the melee.
Congress and YSR Congress workers clashed in Kondareddypalle in Nellore district and nine people were injured in stone pelting. The trouble started with a YSR Congress leader alleging bogus voting by the Congress party. Heated exchanges led to violence. The police resorted to lathicharge to bring the situation under control.
In Railway Kodur in Kadapa district, clashes were reported between YSR Congress and Congress workers while in the Allagadda constituency a constable on the polling duty died due to the heart attack.
Meanwhile, presiding officer S Sheshagiri Rao and micro-observer V Sheshagiri were arrested from the Ongole assembly constituency after they were caught red-handed influencing voters in the booth, through web-casting cameras. While one of them had entered the polling booth in violation of the rules, the other was asking the voters to vote for the YSR Congress.
On orders of the Bhanwar Lal the Prakasham district collector got them arrested.
As part of the elaborate security arrangements to ensure smooth conduct of the polls, authorities were monitoring the polling through thousands of video cameras. Ninety five per cent of the 5,413 polling stations had video cameras installed, which were linked to the web.
The elections are considered crucial as they are expected to have a bearing on the future of Jagan, who has been arrested in connection with a disproportionate assets case.
If Jagan's party wins most of the assembly seats it will spell serious trouble for the Congress government in the state. In a House of 294, the majority of Congress has reduced to razor thin 151. There are speculations that more Congress MLAS will switch the sides if Jagan's party does well in the by-polls.
On the other hand if the Congress is able to wrest some of the seats or if the TDP wins a few, trouble will mount for Jagan.
With inputs from PTI