Polling passes off peacefully with more than 72 per cent of more than 2.81 crore voters exercising their franchise

Enthusiastic voters braved the summer heat and turned up in large numbers across Telangana as polling was held for 17 Lok Sabha and 119 Assembly seats on Wednesday.

Polling passed off peacefully with more than 72 per cent of more than 2.81 crore voters exercising their franchise in the 10 districts in the region. Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal said the polling could touch 75 per cent. In 2009, the percentage was 67.71 in the region.

Electoral fate of 265 Lok Sabha, 1,669 Assembly contestants and more importantly the political contours of the government that will take over the reins in the new Telangana State will be known on May 16 when the votes would be taken up for counting. These elections are historic as the 119 MLAs would be members of the Telangana Legislative Assembly after the formation of Telangana State on June 2.

Elections to 25 Lok Sabha and 175 Assembly seats in Seemandhra are scheduled to be held on May 7 in the next phase of polling.

Hyderabad district (53 per cent) and the neighbouring Ranga Reddy district (60 per cent) recorded a lower turnout when compared to other districts. The highest voter turnout of 80.56 per cent was recorded in Nalgonda.

Complaints galore

Barring minor incidents at a few places, polling ended on a peaceful note all over Telangana, including the areas affected by Left-Wing extremism. However, there were complaints galore from voters at many places that their names were missing from the electoral list and they could not cast their votes in spite of possessing voter ID cards. A polling official suffered a snakebite at Keshampet mandal in Shadnagar Assembly segment. At many places, polling started after a delay of about 30-40 minutes as malfunctioning EVMs had to be replaced.

In Adilabad, police registered a case against former MLA and TRS candidate, Jogu Ramanna and his supporter for allegedly distributing cash among voters in Shantinagar locality in the town.

In the State capital, police said that polling went off peacefully barring sporadic incidents in Goshamahal, Amberpet and Yakuthpura Assembly constituencies. Among others, cases were registered against Vikarm Goud, son of former Minister Mukesh Goud, who is the Congress candidate from the Goshamahal Assembly constituency for assaulting rival party workers. A similar case was booked against senior Congress leader V. Hanumantha Rao, who is contesting from the Amberpet Assembly constituency in the city.

Union Minister K. Chiranjeevi and his family members were caught in an unsavoury episode when they went to a polling station in the posh Jubilee Hills area here to cast their votes. The actor-turned politician and his daughter were forced to join the queue after angry voters objected, apparently, to their attempt to bypass it. His actor-son Ramcharan Teja and Mr. Chiranjeevi’s wife, however, managed to cast their votes during the commotion.

Mr. Chiranjeevi flatly denied that he tried to violate the rules. He maintained that he went inside the booth to find out if their names were there in the electoral rolls in the wake of problems experienced in the last elections.

As against the scheduled closing time of 6 p.m., polling ended at 4 p.m. in Bhupalapalle (ST), Mulug (ST) and Bhadrachalam (ST) Assembly constituencies and at 5 p.m. in seven other segments.

Film stars, sports personalities and top politicians were among those who exercised their franchise. TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao flew in a chopper to Chintamadaka from his farm house at Jagadevpur in Medak district to cast his vote. TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, Telangana BJP president G. Kishan Reddy and Telangana PCC president Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Vijayashanti were among those who exercised their franchise.

Film personalities who cast their votes included N. Balakrishna, Pawan Kalyan, Junior NTR, Venkatesh, D. Rama Naidu, Jeevitha, Akkineni Nagarjuna and his wife Amala.