Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Amid rival claims of bagging the maximum number of Zilla Parishads by the Congress and the Telugu Desam, the fate of 3,972 ZPTC and more than 44,414 MPTC contestants will be decided on Tuesday when counting of votes polled in the panchayat elections is taken up. With the counting scheduled to begin by 8 a.m. in 493 centres across the State amidst tight security, the first results are expected by afternoon.

Elections were held to 1,087 ZPTCs and 15,577 MPTCs. In all, there are 16,113 MPTCs and candidates in 556 of them were elected unanimously. Elections in two MPTCs Anksapur (Nizamabad) and Pulichedu (Nellore) have been postponed while no nominations were received in three others. Candidates were elected unopposed in 10 ZPTCs. The keenly fought local bodies elections witnessed a re-alignment of political forces with the CPI(M) deciding to forge an understanding with the Telugu Desam while the TRS and the CPI sailed with the Congress. APCC chief K. Keshava Rao and other Congress leaders have repeatedly asserted that the ruling party will capture all the 22 Zilla Parishads while the Telugu Desam has claimed that it will win six to seven of them. The CPI(M) is confident of putting up an impressive show in Khammam.

Meanwhile, the Secretary, State Election Commission, G. N. Rao, told reporters here on Monday that 72.17 per cent of the electorate had exercised their franchise as against 71.8 per cent in the last elections in 2001. The highest percentage of 78.56 was reported from Khammam district, followed by Warangal (76.97) and West Godavari (75). The re-polling held in 68 polling stations in 9 districts, including 32 in Guntur, on Monday was by and large peaceful, he said.