ANDHRA PRADESH

ODI, Sivaratri take sheen off campaigning

Staff Reporter

Autos fitted with public address system only way out

Opposition makes price rise key issue Congress plays development card

VISAKHAPATNAM: Campaigning for the 72 wards of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) ended on Saturday on a dull note, thanks to a variety of factors.

As anticipated, the last date for campaigning coincided with the One Day International between India and Sri Lanka and it fell on a day, after many people observed nightlong Sivaratri vigil.

Mad rush

"In most of the houses, either the inmates have gone to catch the ODI live at VDCA-ACA cricket stadium or been to the beach for a holy dip in the sea after fasting and foregoing their sleep in the night. Hence, we banked on announcements on the public address system by engaging autorickshaws," a CPI(M) leader said. Mad rush was witnessed all along the beach road, from RK beach to Rushikonda, and the police made elaborate arrangements with specialist divers from the fishermen community to prevent any untoward incident.

`May I Help You' counters were opened by the police to help visitors coming from outside. The APSRTC deployed several special buses from Pendurthy, Gajuwaka, Visalakshinagar and other areas to the beach road and Kailasagiri.

Additional forces

Campaigning ended at the stroke of 5 p.m. Unlike Assembly and Lok Sabha elections, none planned any big meetings and rallies.

"Mostly, we relied on padayatras and roadshows by our leaders," TDP urban district president Zaheer Ahmad said. Managing the three major events turned into a big challenge for the city and rural police. "Anyhow, we made bandobust everywhere.

Extra forces have been requisitioned to ensure everything went on peacefully," Commissioner of Police V.S.K. Kaumudi said.

Even the traffic police were not withdrawn from their respective beats at various islands to ensure orderly traffic in view of VIP visits for the ODI. The fortnight-long campaigning by major contenders passed off, by and large, peacefully, barring claims and counter-claims on intimidation of voters and distribution of money and liquor.

While the Congress is seeking votes in alliance with the CPI, the CPI(M) has joined hands with the TDP. The BJP is going it alone.

The Opposition parties had harped on price-rise and failures of the ruling party whereas the Congress is seeking votes by playing development card. While the TDP brought cine actors Harikrishna, Roja, Babu Mohan and Mallikarjuna Rao, the Congress deployed Dharmavarapu Subrahmanyam to woo the electorate.

Several top leaders, including PCC president K. Keshava Rao, TDPP leader K. Yerrannaidu, BJP State president Bandaru Dattatreya, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member B.V. Raghavulu and CPI State secretary K. Narayana took part in electioneering.