NANDYAL : Over 80 per cent voters cast ballots in the by-election to Nandyal assembly constituency in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, which passed off peacefully barring minor incidents. For the first time, the Election Commission is using the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) in the election.
As many as 77.66 per cent turnout was recorded till 5 p.m. Though polling came to an end at 6 p.m., those standing in queues were allowed to cast their votes. Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal said the turnout could be 81-82 percent. The final figures will be made available after receipt of reports from all polling stations.
He told reporters in Hyderabad that this would be the highest polling in "years or decade".
Tension prevailed at Atmakaur in the evening when family members of TDP and YSR Congress party candidates clashed. Police had to intervene to bring the situation under control.
Earlier, long queues were seen when polling booths opened at 7 a.m.
Over 2.19 lakh voters were eligible to exercise their franchise at 255 centres.
The VVPAT helps the voters know the candidates they voted for. The VVPAT attached to the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) displays for seven seconds the name of the candidate the voter cast ballot for. Bhanwarlal said there were no complaints about the functioning of VVPAT.
Tight security arrangements were made across the politically sensitive constituency to ensure peaceful and fair polling.
More than 2,500 police personnel, six units of central paramilitary forces, 15 platoons of the Armed Reserve and Special Police were deployed.
The by-poll was necessitated after the death of Bhuma Nagi Reddy, who had quit the YSR Congress party to join the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) last year.
There are 15 candidates in the fray, including Bhuma's nephew Brahmananda Reddy of the TDP, Silpa Mohan Reddy of the YSR Congress and Abdul Khader from the Congress.
It is a direct fight between the TDP and the YSR Congress. Both the parties are treating it as a fight for prestige.
The constituency witnessed high-voltage and acrimonious campaign led by Chief Minister and TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu and YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy.
The stakes are high for both the parties as the result will be seen as a referendum on the performance of TDP-BJP government and indicate which way the wind will blow in the 2019 election.
The counting of votes will be taken up on August 28.