Faulty EVMs, violent clashes mar general elections in Andhra Pradesh

April 11, 2019 04:09 pm | Updated 04:09 pm IST - VIJAYAWADA

Polling to the 175 Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in Andhra Pradesh was marred by violent clashes between YSRCP and TDP workers leading to death of TDP worker in Anantapur and by non- functional EVMs in a large number of polling booths across the State.

The faulty EVMs led to delay of commencement of polling in several constituencies. Chief Electoral Officer, Gopal Krishna Dwivedi himself faced this problem in a polling booth at Tadepalli in Guntur district. He had to wait to cast his vote for some time till the defective EVM was replaced. Many people returned home without casting their votes due to the technical snags that hit EVMs across the State.

The defective EVMs created a situation where voters could be seen standing outside polling booths in long queues but polling percentage hovered around just 10 per cent in the first two hours in many of the constituencies. Unlike in the past, they rushed to booths in the morning itself to avoid the scorching sun.

This prompted Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to demand re-polling at multiple locations and extension of voting time by three hours. In a memorandum to the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr. Naidu blamed the EVMs for delayed commencement of polling across the State and estimated the number of such machines at 30%.

He insisted that this awkward situation could have been avoided if the Election Commission of India (ECI) opted for the paper ballot system instead of the EVMs and VVPATs.

Mr. Dwivedi, however said the defective functioning of EVMs was a "small problem" caused by faulty connections and it was sorted out. He assured the voters that all those present in queues up to 6 p.m. would be allowed to cast their votes.

TDP worker hacked to death

There were violent clashes between YSRCP and TDP workers in some Assembly constitutencies in Anantapur, Kurnool, Kadapa and Guntur districts. TDP worker, Chinta Bhaskar Reddy was hacked to death by political rivals at a polling booth at Veerapuram in Tadipatri constituency in Anantapur district.

There was another clash between the workers of these two parties in Yellanur too, but police brought the situation under control.

Tension prevailed at Ahobhilam in Kurnool district as YSRCP polling agents hurled stones at TDP leaders injuring Bhuma Mounika Reddy, Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhila Priya’s sister, a CRPF jawan, and an independent candidate Rami Reddy. Police said the incident followed Mr. Rami Reddy getting into argument with polling agents.

In Guntur district in Narasaraopeta Assembly constituency, TDP candidate, Aravinda Babu was allegedy attacked by YSRCP activists. Police resorted to lathicharge to quell the clashing workers.

In Sathenapalli, YSRCP workers allegedly manhandled Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao. In the resulting altercation, Mr. Rao had his shirt torn and had minor bruises. His gunman also suffered small injuries. He later entered a polling booth and shut it from inside. Police forced open and brought him out. He fainted but regained consciousness after some time.

In Kadapa district, clashes were reported between YSRCP and TDP in Jammalamadugu and Mydukur Assembly constituencies.

Jana Sena Party candidate Madhusudhan Gupta destroyed an EVM at Gutti village in Guntakal constituency for reasons being inquired into. Mr. Gupta was arrested by police.

In Machilipatnam Assembly segment, the polling staff has reportedly deleted 125 votes that were polled on the EVMs by mistake after they learnt that they did not clear the votes that were cast during the mock poll. The Returning Officer J. Udaya Bhaskar confirmed the incident and said the voters were contacted "through various sources" and asked to exercise their franchise again.

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