Hyderabad, March 18 (IANS) Braving the scorching sun and despite the India-Pakistan cricket match and numerous marriages, 71 percent of 13.82 lakh voters Sunday cast their vote in seven assembly constituencies of Andhra Pradesh, including six in the Telangana region.
Barring a minor incident, polling passed off peacefully, said state chief electoral officer Bhanwar Lal.
The seven constituencies are Adilabad (Adilabad district), Kamareddy (Nizamabad), Station Ghanpur (Warangal), Mahabubnagar, Kollapur, Nagarkurnool (Mahabubnagar) and Kovur (Nellore).
Kovur assembly seat in Nellore district registered 84 percent turnout while Adilabad recorded the lowest polling percentage of 61. The poll percentage in Kamareddy was 68, Mahabubnagar 70, Nagarkurnool 70, Kollapur 75 and Station Ghanpur 64.
Enthusiasm among voters marked the polling which began amid tight security at 8 a.m. in five districts.
The results will decide the fate of 67 candidates belonging to various political parties. The counting of votes will be taken up March 21.
To escape the intense heat, voters formed long queues since early morning outside several polling stations in the constituencies.
People also preferred to exercise their franchise in the early hours to catch live action of the Indo-Pak cricket match on their television sets or to attend the marriages.
The chief electoral officer made a special appeal to all the voters to cast their vote in view of the reports that the cricket match and the marriages could affect the polling.
As the match began in the afternoon, the political parties made all out efforts to bring voters to polling centres in the morning.
Hundreds of marriages were also scheduled for Sunday, the last day for weddings before "Moodami" - the traditional inauspicious time - starts.
Police in Station Ghanpur constituency in Warangal district booked Congress leader and MP S.Rajaiah for alleged violation of the poll code. He was booked under Section 151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for camping in the constituency despite orders from the election authorities to all non-locals to leave.
In Nagarkurnool constituency in Mahabubnagar district, supporters of former minister and independent candidate N. Janardahana Reddy clashed with activists of the ruling Congress party. About 20 people were arrested.
Voters in Purandapuram village in Kovur constituency of Nellore district boycotted the polling as the authorities failed to solve their civic problems.
The bypolls are a result of vacancies that arose due to the resignations of two legislators of the Congress party, one of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), three rebels of the TDP and the death of one independent legislator.
Unlike the previous byelections, lack of Telangana sentiment this time has made the going tough for Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in the six constituencies that fall in the region.
About 10,000 policemen and polling personnel were deployed for smooth and peaceful conduct of the polling at 1,660 polling centres.
Bhanwar Lal and other senior poll officers were monitoring the polling process at all centres through webcasting.
Majority of the assembly constituencies are witnessing triangular contests among the ruling Congress, the TDP and TRS.
At Kovur assembly constituency in Nellore district, the contest is between the Congress, YSR Congress and the TDP. The YSR Party is staying away from the polls in Telangana.
Two legislators each of the Congress and the TDP had resigned to join the TRS. Senior TDP leader N. Janardhan Reddy resigned over the demand for a separate Telangana state and is seeking re-election as an independent from Nagarkurnool in Mahabubnagar district. Both TRS and BJP are extending support to him.
Another TDP rebel Prasanna Kumar Reddy quit from Kovur to join YSR Congress party. The fledgling outfit is going all out to win this seat, as it will be a major test for the party ahead of another round of by-polls.
The assembly speaker earlier this month disqualified 16 Congress rebels, who switched loyalties to the YSR Party. He also accepted the resignation of a legislator of Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), who had also joined the YSR Party floated by Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, son of late chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy.