Polling began in the crucial by-elections to the 18 assembly segments and one Lok Sabha constituency in Andhra Pradesh, results of which are expected to give a new direction to the state politics.
Though the by-elections are not expected to lead to the fall of Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy's government, a "wave" is expected in favour of Jaganmohan Reddy-led YSR Congress notwithstanding his arrest in the disproportionate assets case and corruption allegations against him.
As many as 46,13,589 voters including 22,79,732 men and 23,33,844 women electors and 13 others, would exercise their franchise at 5,413 polling stations set up in the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency and 18 assembly segments, spread over 12 districts in the state.
According to State Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwar Lal, about 50,000 polling personnel including 138 companies of Central Armed Police Force have been deployed for the conduct of elections. Webcasting of polling process is also being done.
With the state recording 100 per cent distribution of photo identity cards, the Election Commission has insisted that voters should produce their photo identity card or the authenticated voter slips distributed by the poll officials for establishing their identity before casting their votes.
The 18 assembly constituencies where by-polls are underway are: Parkal, Narsannapeta, Payakaraopet, Ramachandrapuram, Narasapuram, Polavaram (ST), Prathipadu (SC), Macherla, Ongole, Udayagiri, Rajampet, Kodur (SC), Rayachoty, Allagadda, Yemmiganur, Rayadurg, Anantapur Urban and Tirupati.
The counting of votes will be done on June 15 from 8 am.
By-polls were necessitated in 16 of the 18 assembly seats as the sitting Congress members of Legislative Assembly were disqualified by the assembly speaker for switching loyalty to Kadapa Member of Parliament Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy and voting against the Congress government during a no-trust vote in December.
The sitting MLA quit in support of Jagan in one constituency, while actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi resigned as MLA following his election to Rajya Sabha which caused a by-poll in another seat.The sitting Congress member quit in support of Jagan which necessitated by-poll in the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency.