The polling in the byelection to the Badvel Assembly constituency in the district was peaceful as over 59.5% of voters exercised their franchise by 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The byelection was necessitated following the death of sitting YSRCP MLA Venkata Subbaiah in March.
Though the Telulgu Desam Party and the Jana Sena Party took a decision not to field their candidates and allow a member from the deceased’s family to get unanimously elected, the BJP, the Jana Sena Party’s ally, fielded its candidate Suresh Panatala. The YSRCP candidate is the deceased MLA’s wife Dasari Sudha. The Congress fielded Mary Kamalamma. Twelve others are also in the fray from recognised political parties and as independents.
In spite of the heavy presence of paramilitary forces coupled with the State police parties, tense moments were witnessed in several panchayats, with the BJP cadres alleging rigging and free movement of outsiders at the polling stations in Badvel and Atluru mandals.
The local people had caught red-handed three outsiders while they were in a queue at a booth in S. Venkatapuram village of Atluru mandal and handed them over to the police. This led to a sudden flare-up of tension with the YSRCP and BJP supporters resorting to jostling and attacking one another with footwear. The police had to rush in and pacify the two groups. No untoward incident was reported from the other mandals of Kalasapadu, B. Kodur, Sri Avadhutha Kasinayana, Badvel, Gopavaram and Atluru mandals.
The BJP leaders alleged that the YSRCP cadres had resorted to large-scale rigging in Porumamilla mandal as the ruling party had managed to post the local police at the polling station. BJP Rajya Sabha member C.M. Ramesh told the media that this would be brought to the notice of the Central Election Commission.
At a majority of the polling stations, women outnumbered men. The constituency has a total of 2,15,292 voters, including 1.07 lakh women and 22 transgenders.
Amidst inclement weather in several parts of Badvel, the voting percentage at 9 a.m. stood around 11%. The response from the voters continued to be lukewarm till 11 a.m. However, an impressive surge of voters was reported at all the booths later, and the momentum continued till 1.30 p.m. The polling percentage reached just under 45% by 3 p.m. and further rose by 15% by 5 p.m.
Kadapa Superintendent of Police K.K.N. Anbhurajan carried out a series of inspections at the polling booths. He said 2,622 police personnel had been drafted for the election duty in the constituency besides 15 platoons of Central forces.
The police had intensified surveillance along Badvel’s borders with Ongole and Nellore districts. Special teams formed by the special enforcement bureau (SEB) stepped up vigil against the flow of liquor into Badvel from other regions.
Chief Election Officer K. Vijayanand told the media that a team of 24 officials had been entrusted with the job of keeping a thorough watch on the polling through webcasting. He said barring minor hiccups, the byelection was held in a very peaceful manner. Due to technical reasons, three EVMs were replaced with new ones in Badvel.