After day-long process of recording postal ballots, mixing and bundling ballot papers on Wednesday, the results of the first batch counting of first-preference votes in the Warangal-Khammam-Nalgonda Graduates’ MLC poll came at around 2.30 a.m. on Thursday.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s sitting MLC Palla Rajeshwar Reddy registered a headstart with 16,130 votes, followed by independent candidate Teenmar Mallanna securing 12,046 votes and Telangana Jana Samithi’s M. Kodandaram garnering 9,080 votes. Candidates from Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress, Gujjula Premendar Reddy and S. Ramulu Naik, got 6,615 and 4,345 votes respectively.
Other popular candidates – Jayasaradhi Reddy from the Left, Telangana Inti Party’s Cheruku Sudhakar and G. Rani Rudrama Reddy – were left with votes ranging between 4,000 and 6,000. Counting of 56,000 votes in each batch, at 1,000 votes per table, took about five hours, and the entire election machinery is working on shifts for the round-the-clock exercise. As the counting of batches progressed, several candidates, independent or represented by a party regressed to lower positions, and as visible at the closing of fourth batch counting at around 5.30 p.m., the top three positions based on votes gathered remained unaffected from the first batch.
Mr. Reddy had accumulated 63,442 votes, a majority of 15,438 votes over his immediate contender Mr. Mallanna, who had garnered 48,004 votes. In the third position, Mr. Kodandaram was with 39,615 votes, almost 16,000 more votes than the BJP candidate. Of the total 3,86,320 ballot papers, more than 55% or 2,23,981 ballot papers were counted. The reports also tell that 12,475 graduates did not know how to exercise their franchise validly and for the same reasons their votes were declared invalid.
With the counting of pending 1,62,339 votes in progress, and as it is unlikely that no candidate including the front runner is headed to garner more than 50% majority i.e., more than1.93 lakh valid votes, contestants and officials weigh in on the second round counting or counting of second preference votes. The process is linked with elimination of candidates who had secured low votes, while votes of second preference on their ballot papers will be added to the leading candidates to achieve majority. The preferential process rounds may continue further, till one of the candidates attains majority to win the poll.
Going by the numbers last available on Thursday, the contest is headed for a triangle fight among – Mr. Reddy, Mr. Mallanna and Mr. Kodandaram, the result of which may be available on Friday.