60 percent polling till 3 p.m. in Telangana’s first election

Hyderabad : About 60 percent polling was recorded till 3 p.m. for 17 Lok Sabha seats and 119 state assembly seats in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh, officials said.

Barring minor incidents, balloting was on peacefully amid tight security at 30,574 polling booths across 10 districts of Telangana including Hyderabad.

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While nine districts recorded heavy polling, the turnout was low in Hyderabad. Chief electoral officer Bhanwarlal said 51 percent votes were polled in the city. Highest turnout of 65 percent was recorded in Medak district.

No incident was reported from any of the 10 Maoist affected assembly constituencies, he said. Polling in three of these constituencies will end at 4 p.m. and in the rest at 5 p.m.

Clashes between workers of rival parties were reported from Mahabubnagar and Ranga Reddy districts.

In Gajwel assembly segment of Medak Lok Sabha constituency, police kept Telugu Desam Party (TDP) candidate Pratap Reddy under house arrest after a clash between TDP and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) activists. TRS chief K. Chandrasekara Rao is contesting for both Medak Lok Sabha and Gajwel assembly seats.

In Maharajgunj assembly constituency in Hyderabad, Congress candidate and former minister Mukesh Goud’s son Vikram Goud allegedly attacked workers of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ally TDP.

Two people were injured in a clash between Congress and TRS supporters in Kollapur constituency in Mahabubnagar district.

A vehicle allegedly belonging to a Congress leader mysteriously caught fire in Suryapet in Nalgonda district. Bundles of currency notes of Rs.1,000 and 500 denominations, hidden in the engine, were found burnt. The driver escaped after the Innova vehicle caught fire.

The vehicle carried legislator sticker reportedly belonging to Telangana Congress committee’s working president Uttam Kumar Reddy, who is seeking re-election from Huzurnagar assembly constituency.

The CEO, however, said the identity of the owner and other details would be known only after the driver is caught.

More than 28.17 million electors are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first election in Telangana since parliament passed a bill in February for separate statehood to the region.

As many as 265 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha and 1,669 for the assembly constituencies.

Technical snag in electronic voting machines (EVMs) led to delay in start of the polling at some polling centres.

Bhanwarlal told reporters that some EVMs received from Electronic Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad were in factory mode and the polling staff was unable to use them.

He, however, said such EVMs were replaced in 20 minutes to half-an-hour as every district has 2,000 EVMs in reserve.

“There was a small technical snag in new EVMs. They are in factory mode and they have to be sent back to the factory but we have sufficient number of machines for immediate replacement,” he said.

The election authorities are using 100,000 EVMs. The CEO said these were new machines which arrived two days ago from ECIL and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL).

Director General of Police B. Prasada Rao said the polling was on in a peaceful manner. He said no untoward incident was reported from any part of Telangana.

The CEO said 150,000 security personnel including paramilitary forces were deployed as part of the massive security arrangements. Four helicopters were also kept ready for contingency.

Prominent among the contestants for Lok Sabha elections include union cabinet Minister S. Jaipal Reddy (Mahabubnagar), TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao (Medak), his daughter K. Kavitha (Nizamabad), Lok Satta chief Jayaprakash Narayan (Malkajgiri) and Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi (Hyderabad).

As the state will be formally bifurcated in June, the Election Commission is conducting the polls in the undivided state.

The elected legislators will be allotted to the respective states after June 2.