Barring stray incidents, polling was by and large peaceful

An air of festivity prevailed at most polling stations in the tribal areas of the district as women, dressed in their best attire, made a beeline for the polling booths, to cast their vote in the MPTC and ZPTC elections held on Friday.

The tribal men and women gathered in large numbers at the polling stations right from the early hours. It is no surprise that the tribal people refer to the polling day as ‘votla pandaga’ (votes festival). Those who had already cast their voters waited under trees for their near and dear ones to join them after exercising their franchise. They did not seem to mind waiting for long hours for their turn to vote.

The polling was brisk with an impressive turnout at most places during the first few hours. There seemed to be greater awareness among the tribal people. Shoba Jamalamma, a blind woman, came to vote with the assistance of her sister-in-law at a polling booth at Kasipatnam.

A youth was overheard telling his friends at the same booth: “I thought of abstaining from voting this time as Pawan Kalyan has decided not to contest this time. But on second thoughts, I decided not to let my vote go waste.”

The polling was by and large peaceful barring stray incidents like snatching of a ballot box from a booth at Busiputtu of Munchingput mandal by suspected Maoists, detention of polling staff at Maddi village of Gummalarevu panchayat, clash between two rival groups at Badimalla village of Paderu mandal and distribution of cash by a party activist, allegedly belonging to the YSRC, near a polling station at Vaddiva village of Rolugunta mandal.

Voters from the plain areas were seen being transported in open vans to their native villages to cast their votes. At some places the polling was delayed due to various reasons.

Altercation

An altercation between two groups at a polling station at Kandram of Dumbriguda mandal village resulted in injuries to four persons and stoppage of polling for about an hour. The polling staff and volunteers set up temporary barricades with bamboo poles and regulated the movement of the queue lines. The police, however, did not rush to the village as it was an interior village and they could become easy target for the Maoists.

At Paridi village of the same mandal minor altercations ensued among the voters as the single entry and exit from the polling booth was resulting in undue delay in the polling. The Dumbriguda SI came in mufti along with a couple of armed men and monitored the situation.

Re-poll

Zilla Parishad CEO Maheswar Reddy announced a re-poll would be held on April 16, for polling station 27 of Munchinput mandal, where a ballot box was snatched away.

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