The MLC election for the Graduates constituency took a caste twist in West Godavari district on Thursday following a protest at Tanuku by K. George Victor, a sitting MLC and the PDF candidate from the Scheduled Castes, accusing the supporters of his rival candidate K. Ravikiran Varma of abusing him by caste. Backed by the United Teachers Federation (UTF) and the Joint Action Committee of the government employees, Mr. Victor squatted on the main road in front of a polling station in the town for several hours demanding action against the `abusers’ under the Andhra Pradesh SC & ST Atrocities (Prevention) Act. According to Cherukuri Subhashchandra Bose, the chief campaigner of Mr. Victor and president of the UTF State branch, their candidate was subjected to abuse by caste along with the JAC convenor L.V. Sagar, also belonging to the Scheduled Castes, when they tried to prevent distribution of money allegedly by the supporters of Mr. Varma at the main gate of the polling station. The polling was marred by the protest which began at 3 pm. The agitators demanded a re-polling in the area. A complaint was made to the police with the charges of caste abuse and electoral malpractices against the rival group.
The district registered hardly 52 per cent of the polling which is less than three per cent over the previous election. The low turnout at the polling stations was attributed to the voter apathy and the reported inability by the candidates to reach out to the voters scattering across the twin Godavari districts with the largest geographical area in the State. According to Mullapudi Satyanarayana, a voter and practising lawyer in Eluru, barring Mr. Victor and Mr. Ravi Kiran Varma, none of the 30-odd candidates was familiar.