Violence erupted in parts of Andhra Pradesh during simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state on Thursday. One party worker each from Telugu Desam Party and the Opposition YSR Congress Party were killed in a clash, PTI reported.
Unidentified officials said workers of the two parties clashed in Guntur, Anantapur, West Godavari, Prakasam, Kurnool, Srikakulam and Kadapa districts. Police did not confirm any deaths, but the Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress issued statement reporting the deaths of their party members. They accused each other of being responsible for the violence.
A Telugu Desam Party worker was killed in a clash near a polling booth in Veerapuram in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, The Hindu reported. District Election Officer G Veerapandian said incident occurred during a clash between workers of the two parties.
The YSR Congress claimed a party worker, Pulla Reddy, was attacked with sickles during the clash in Anantpur.
In Ahobilam in Kurnool, a security personnel was injured as clashes broke out between workers of the two parties, ANI reported.
In another incident, YSR Congress Party workers allegedly ransacked EVMs in a polling station in Jandlavaram village of Mydukur mandal. The police dispersed an agitated mob gathered outside the voting station, and polling officials locked it, reports said.
Meanwhile, reports said the speaker of Andhra Pradesh Asembly Kodela Sivaprasada Rao, Telugu Desam Party’s candidate for Sattenapalle Assembly constituency, was allegedly attacked by YSR Congress workers. the incident took place when Rao visited Inumetla of Rajupalem mandal to oversee the polling process.
A scuffle broke out between Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress workers, The Times of India reported. During the process, Rao received minor injuries, though security personnel immediately frisked him away.
EVM glitches reported
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu accused the Election Commission of failing to ensure the smooth operation of polling in the state, ANI reported.
“The Election Commission, which acted actively in transferring the officials, could not maintain electronic voter machines and voter verified paper audit trail machines,” Naidu said. “They have failed. You [voters] had to face troubles in the scorching heat. I am very disappointed and feel bad for it. However, I once again appeal to all of you to cast your vote.”
Naidu was referring to glitches in electronic voting machines operations in several places in Andhra Pradesh during the first phase of voting for Lok Sabha and Assembly elections on Thursday, PTI reported. Polling began at 7 am.
There were complaints about technical glitches in EVMs at 50 places, PTI quoted State Chief Electoral Officer Gopal Krishna Dwivedi as saying. He added that technical teams are at the spot to rectify defects in these machines and resume polling.
Several booths in Kuppam Assembly constituency reported EVM glitches, The Hindu reported. This is the constituency of the chief minister. In Kadapa, the button with the fan symbol could not be pressed at one booth, and the cycle symbol at another booth. Both EVMs were immediately changed.
Over 100 EVMs allegedly malfunctioned in Prakasam district as polling began in 3,269 booths. Polling officials replaced the machines. The police also took two polling agents into custody for allegedly trying to bribe voters at Vemavaram village in Ballikuruva mandal of the district.
However, the Election Commission said only 43 out of a total of 92,000 EVMs in the state had to be replaced.
Naidu has written a letter to the Election Commission about malfunctioning EVMs and demanded a re-poll, the Hindustan Times. He told the poll body that 30% of the EVMs were not functioning till 10 am.
“The Election Commission should realise the danger of using the EVMs at least after seeing the technical glitches across the state,” he told reporters, according to The Times of India.
Violence reported in other parts of the state
Jana Sena MLA candidate Madhusudhan Gupta smashed an EVM at a polling booth in Gooty, in Anantpur district, ANI reported. He has been arrested.
In Puthalapattu constituency of Andhra Pradesh, a clash broke out between YSR Congress party and Telugu Desam Party workers. Police resorted to baton charging the workers, ANI reported.
There are over 3.93 crore registered voters in the state, of which 10.15 lakh are first time voters. As many as 2,118 candidates are contesting 175 Assembly seats, and 319 nominees for 25 Lok Sabha seats.
The Lok Sabha elections are being held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be declared on May 23.