There were complaints of missing of names from the voters list and campaigning near polling stations

The party which gains a sizeable majority in Kotaurtala mandal is likely to become the winner in the neck-and-neck race between the YSR Congress Party and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the by-election to the Payakaraopeta (SC) Assembly constituency in Visakhapatnam district held on Tuesday. The polling was by and large peaceful except for stray incidents and an impressive 82 per cent voting was recorded.

An eerie silence prevailed in all four mandals of the constituency with people going about their work as usual except for the assembly of small groups of people close to polling stations. Women were seen forming long queues at many booths right from the start of the polling. Men were seen in good numbers at the booths after lunch.

There were complaints of missing of names from the voters list, malfunctioning of Electronic Voting Machines (EVM s) and campaigning near polling stations.

Tension

Tension prevailed for sometime at Venkatapuram village of Kotauratla mandal when four persons sustained injuries in a clash between two groups said to be supporters of YSRCP and Congress. The groups dispersed with the arrival of the police.

TDP nominee Chengala Venkata Rao staged a protest at M.S. Peta alleging that the MRO had deliberately deleted the names of the 88 voters from the list, while the names of some voters were entered twice. He alleged that it was done to favour the ruling party.

He expressed the confidence of winning the election as the percentage of polling was going up. He alleged that the police had resorted to a lathi charge on the protesters.

Fishermen, the traditional vote bank of the TDP, were seen arriving from distant places along with their family members with their bag and baggage.

Demudu, a native of Rajaiahpeta village, was seen arriving with his family members to cast his franchise. “I am working for a contractor in Tirupathi. I come with my family during festive occasions and for elections,” he says.

It's said that around 10,000 fishermen and their families, who had settled in Puri in Orissa and from different parts of Andhra Pradesh, have returned to their native villages during the last few days, to cast their votes. While some have their ancestral homes in the villages, those who have migrated have put up at lodges in Payakaraopeta for the election.

Muslims of Muslim Thatichetlapalem in Visakhapatnam city came in a van to Peda Bodhigalam village, which has a sizeable Muslim population, to cast their votes there.

These Muslims, who are natives of the village, had migrated to the city. They came along with a political party activist from the city to exercise their franchise.

Quite a few voters were found in an inebriated condition at Panduru village of Kotauratla mandal, a stronghold of the YSRCP. Around 50 per cent of the voting was completed by 1 p.m. at many booths.

Around 75 per cent polling was completed by 3 p.m. at Satyavaram village. “The inability of many voters, mostly senior citizens, to use the EVM s properly has resulted in undue delay in the voting process.

The voters have not been educated on the use of EVM s,” said a polling official.

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