Hyderabad: Over 4.6 million voters in Andhra Pradesh are eligible to exercise their franchise in Tuesday's by-polls to Nellore Lok Sabha and 18 legislative assembly seats in what is seen as the semi-finals before 2014 general elections. YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) led by jailed Kadapa MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy appears to have an edge in majority of the constituencies in the three-cornered contest with ruling Congress and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
Massive security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful and free and fair election in the constituencies spread over 12 districts. As many 50,000 polling personnel and about an equal number of policemen were deployed for smooth conduct of the polling. With 60 percent of 5,413 polling stations considered sensitive, police have made elaborate arrangements to maintain law and order. Director General of Police V. Dinesh Reddy told reporters that 56 companies of Andhra Pradesh Special Police, 3,000 constables, 1,500 home guards and 2,000 inspectors were deployed.
State Chief Electoral Officer Bhanwarlal said 255 candidates were in the fray and they include 13 for Nellore Lok Sabha seat. The election authorities had taken all measures to prevent electoral malpractices and were keeping a tight vigil in the wake of reports that the political parties were distributing cash, gold jewellery and other valuables among voters. During the last 15 days, police seized Rs.42 crore cash, and Rs.13 crore worth of gold, silver and other valuables, which is a record in any election in the state's history.
Over 4.6 million voters in Andhra Pradesh are eligible to exercise their franchise in Tuesday\'s by-polls.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are major contenders in Parkala, the only assembly segment going to polls in the Telangana region. The by-elections were forced by the resignation of a Congress MP and disqualification of 17 state legislators, who switched their loyalties to YSRCP. Tirupati assembly seat fell vacant due to actor-turned-politician K. Chiranjeevi's election to Rajya Sabha.
The polls are crucial for the Congress government as a sweep by YSR Congress might make it more vulnerable. The ruling party enjoys a only a narrow majority with 152 legislators in 294-member assembly.
The YSR Congress is going all out to prove that it is a force to reckon with despite its leader Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy being sent to jail on corruption charges. In fact the party is banking on the public sympathy in the wake of his arrest by the CBI a few days before the polling.
The high-decibel and bitter campaigning came to an end Sunday evening. While both Congress and TDP targeted Jagan, his mother Y.S. Vijayamma and sister Sharmila hit back by accusing them of conspiracy to send Jagan to jail. They proved a big hit with the people in all the constituencies.
Congress used the services of at least half a dozen central ministers, over two dozens of state ministers, several MPs and state legislators for the campaigning. Central ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Vyalar Ravi, party general secretary Oscar Fernandes and parliamentarian Chiranjeevi also campaigned in the state. Besides, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana were the main campaigners.
Former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu led the TDP campaign. Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj and TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao also campaigned for their respective parties in Parkala.
In Nellore constituency, Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy of the YSR Congress is locked in a keen tussle with former union minister T. Subbarami Reddy of the ruling Congress party. Rajamohan Reddy, who was elected on Congress ticket in 2009 elections, resigned last year after switching loyalties to Jagan's party.