Lok Sabha election campaigning ends in Seemandhra
Campaigning came to an end Monday evening for the second and final phase of Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Seemandhra of Andhra Pradesh scheduled Wednesday.
Loudspeakers fell silent, door-to-door canvassing by all political parties and their candidates came to a halt and the poll advertisements on television channels were taken off the air at 6 p.m.
Elections to 25 Lok Sabha and 175 assembly seats will be held in 13 districts of Seemandhra (four districts of Rayalaseema and nine districts of coastal Andhra).
This will be the first election in Seemandhra after a bill for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh was passed in the Lok Sabha Feb 18, 2014 and in the Rajya Sabha Feb 20, 2014.
As many as 333 candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha seats while 2,246 contestants are testing their political fortunes in 175 assembly constituencies.
Telangana, which went to polls in the first phase last week, and Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra) will come into being as separate states June 2.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Bhanwarlal told reporters that all arrangements have been made for peaceful and smooth conduct of polls.
Over 36.76 million voters are eligible to cast their votes in Seemandhra. The poll authorities have set up 40,708 polling stations.
Bhanwarlal said nearly 1.30 lakh Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) would be used. Each district will have 2,000 to 3,000 additional EVMs. "We have directed officials to take all precautions to avoid problems in EVMs like it did in Telangana," he said.
The poll authorities have directed the leaders and workers of all parties who are not voters in Seemandhra to leave the districts.
Liquor shops in all 13 districts will be closed for the next 48 hours. The election machinery will be keeping a tight vigil in view of large-scale complaints of distribution of money, liquor and gifts by the parties and the candidates to bribe the voters.
"The two nights will be very crucial for us. We have already doubled the number of flying squads," the CEO said.
The police have so far seized Rs.134 crore unaccounted cash, the highest in the country. They also seized 5.5 lakh litres of liquor, 74 kg gold and 930 kg of silver.
The CEO said 272 companies of central paramilitary forces besides 1.2 lakh state police personnel have been deployed as part of security arrangements.
The Election Commission has banned telecast or publication of any opinion poll, survey or exit poll till the completion of the voting process.
It has declared a paid holiday for all shops, business establishments, public and private institutions and has warned strict action against the violators.
On the last day of the campaigning, leaders of the major parties addressed series of meetings and rallies in a last-ditch attempt to woo the voters.
YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy campaigned in Kurnool and Anantapur districts. His sister Sharmila and mother Y.S. Vijayamma conducted road shows in Visakhapatnam.
Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu addressed meetings in Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts. Actor Pawan Kalyan, who is backing the TDP-BJP alliance, addressed rallies in Chittoor and Anantapur districts.
Congress party's central leader Jairam Ramesh, campaign committee chairman K. Chiranjeevi and party's Seemandhra unit chief N. Raghuveera Reddy also wooed voters in different parts of coastal Andhra.
(Posted on 05-05-2014)
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