Hyderabad: Over 30 per cent polling was recorded in the first four hours of the by-election to the Huzurabad Assembly constituency in Telangana on Saturday.
According to the state’s Chief Electoral Officer Shashank Goel, 33.27 per cent voter turnout was recorded till 9 a.m. He was monitoring the poll process through webcasting.
The polling, which began at 7 a.m. at 306 polling centres across the constituency in Karimnagar district, was underway in a smooth and peaceful manner, barring minor incidents of clashes between workers of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
District Election Officer and Karimnagar District Collector R.V. Karnan, who visited a few polling stations to oversee the polling process, said Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) at a couple of places developed snags but they were immediately replaced.
He said the polling process will continue till 7 p.m. and those standing in queues at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast their votes.
Long queues of voters were seen at the polling centres in the early hours. A total of 2,37,036 voters are eligible to cast their ballots.
Authorities were ensuring compliance to Covid-19 protocol. At every polling station, voters were allowed after thermal screening. The officials also arranged sanitizer and made markings on ground to ensure social distancing.
The Election Commission of India made elaborate arrangements to ensure free and fair polling. Twenty companies of central forces in addition to the personnel from state police were deployed as part of the elaborate security arrangements.
Hanamkonda District Collector Rajiv Gandhi Hanumanthu, Warangal Police Commissioner Tarun Joshi, Karimnagar Police Commissioner Satyanarayana also visited few polling stations to monitor polling and security arrangements.
BJP candidate Eatala Rajender and his wife cast their votes at a polling centre in Kamalapur.
Addressing reporters he alleged that the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) distributed cash among voters with the police providing them the protection. He claimed that TRS spent thousands of crores and distributed liquor like water to prevent him from entering the Assembly.
Rajender, however, exuded confidence that Huzurabad voters would vote for their self-respect and defeat the designs of TRS.
Meanwhile, BJP workers tried to stop TRS leader Kaushik Reddy when he went to a polling station. They raised objections to the presence of a ‘non-local’. Police intervened to safely escort Kaushik Reddy.
A total of 30 candidates are in fray in the by-election, caused by the resignation of Rajender after he was dropped from state Cabinet. He had quit the TRS to join BJP.
Rajender, who had been representing Huzurabad seat since 2009, is locked in a three-cornered contest with Gellu Srinivas Yadav of TRS and B. Venkat Narsing Rao of the Congress party.