First phase of polling today in Paderu Revenue Division
The first phase of Panchayat elections in the district will take place in the Paderu Revenue Division, comprising the Visakha Agency area on Tuesday, posing the biggest challenge to the police and the district administration in the background of violence by the CPI (Maoist) which resulted in no elections in 19 Panchayats in six of the 11 mandals, for the posts of 19 sarpanches and 148 ward members.
The day before polling, the officials heaved a sigh of relief as the security personnel and polling staff reached the polling stations designated to them and no incident was reported till late in the evening, even from the problematic villages after late on the previous night when the Maoists felled a tree and placed it across the road on Rompala ghat road between Chintapalli and GK Veedhi.
Protest against killing
This was in protest against the killing of a veteran Maoist leader Ganti Prasasdam and after the call for a bandh in the AOB area on Sunday in protest against Prasadam’s killing failed to evoke a response.
Though a large police force has been deployed to ensure smooth conduct of elections by keeping the Maoists at bay, their presence is not overtly visible and the strategy seems to be to keep the forces at a distance from the polling stations and around the villages. Intensive combing was launched several days ago in the Agency, particularly after a woman Maoist was killed in exchange of fire in GK Veedhi mandal on July 13 in search of around 100 Maoists who moved in from Odisha to disturb the polling in Visakha Agency.
As tension continues in the Agency, rains lashing the Agency area for the last few days hampered the combing operations. Contestants are also worried about the rain which might affect the polling if it continues on Tuesday. Collector V. Sheshadri visited Munchingput, Pedabayalu and Hukumpeta and Joint Collector Pravin Kumar was at Chintapalli on Monday to inspect the arrangements made for the polling and the counting that follows.
The total number of voters in the Division is 3,71,852 and 1,83,114 are men and 1,88,114 are women. Elections will be held for 221 posts of sarpanches and 1,501 posts of ward members after four sarpanches and 797 ward members were elected unanimously. A total of 1,084 candidates are in fray for the sarpanch posts and 3,502 for ward members’ posts. A total of 5,300 Presiding Officer and Assistant POs will conduct the polling in Paderu Division.
Of the 382 sensitive villages in the district, 36 are in Paderu Division. Webcasting to monitor the situation inside the polling stations, has been arranged at Paderu, Pedalabudu, Koyyuru and Rajendrapalem.