Lok Sabha elections 2024: Violence mars polling in Andhra Pradesh; voting largely peaceful in Telangana

Telangana and AP recorded provisional turnout of 61.23% and 68.12%, respectively, for the Lok Sabha polls. The AP Assembly polls saw 68.04% voting.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published May 14, 2024 | 12:47 AMUpdatedMay 14, 2024 | 12:50 AM

Lok Sabha elections 2024: Violence mars polling in Andhra Pradesh; voting largely peaceful in Telangana

A slew of violent incidents, including clashes and even abductions, marred polling in several places as the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections — held simultaneously with the Andhra Pradesh Assembly polls — on Monday, 13 May.

While Telangana and Andhra Pradesh recorded provisional polling of 61.23 percent and 68.12 percent respectively for the Lok Sabha elections, the Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh recorded a turnout of 68.04 percent.

Polling in Andhra Pradesh was sluggish in the morning, but picked up as the day progressed. The violent incidents in several parts of the state impeded the pace. In tribal segments like Araku and Paderu, polling ended at 4 pm.

Though police were prepared, the incidents of violence were more than they had expected in Andhra Pradesh.

While most of them were not very serious in nature, they were enough to scare the voters.

Most of the incidents were clashes between the YSRCP and TDP workers over perceived violations of the Model Code of Conduct.

Also Read: BJP accuses YSR Congress of attacking NDA workers during AP polls

Polling in Andhra Pradesh

Polling was held for 175 Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh, and for 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana.

The top contestants in Andhra Pradesh included current Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy (Pulivendula), his sister and APCC president YS Sharmila (Kadapa Lok Sabha), TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu (Kuppam), Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan (Pithapuram) and BJP state president D Purandeswari (Rajamahendravaram Lok Sabha).

BJP general secretary Arun Singh, who is also election in-charge for BJP in Andhra Pradesh, complained to the Election Commission of India (ECI) that YSRCP workers were unleashing a wave of violence by intimidating the activists of the tripartite alliance fighting against YSRCP.

He said the incidents were unprecedented, and sought action against those responsible for the attacks.

During the course of the polling, TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu accused YSRCP of instigating violence, claiming it had developed cold feet now that it was on the verge of losing the election. He demanded steps from the ECI to ensure an atmosphere for free and fair elections.

He also said it was outrageous to attack even women voters and women leaders. He said YSRCP workers in Guntur tried to mow down women with a car.

At some places, particularly in Araku, Paderu, and Tenali, there were reports of rains, playing spoilsport with the progress of polling.

Related: Violence, clashes and kidnaps mar Andhra Pradesh’s simultaneous polls

Violence across the state

In Andhra Pradesh, the day began with reports of clashes near the polling stations. The principal political parties — YSRCP on one side and the TDP-JSP-BJP alliance on the other — accusing each other of being responsible for the outbreak of violence.

At Narasaropet in the Palnadu district, police fired rubber bullets to disperse a crowd that was apparently about to attack YSRCP candidate G Srinivas after an argument between him and the TDP workers.

According to Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Mukesh Kumar Meena, three TDP agents were abducted in the Bokaramanda village under the Punganur Assembly segment in the Chittoor district.

According to the complaint lodged with the ECI by TDP district in-charge Jagan Mohan Raju, the agents were forcibly taken away while they were on their way to the polling stations. They were later rescued.

There were reports of YSRCP workers attempting to attack TDP’s Narasaraopet Lok Sabha candidate Krishnadeva Rayalu by throwing stones at him at the Dondapadu village.

Three cars were reportedly damaged in the attack. Krishnadeva Rayalu lodged a complaint with the ECI in this regard.

In the Penamaluru Assembly constituency in the erstwhile Krishna district, a clash was reported between TDP and YSRCP workers at Poranki, forcing police to use force. A similar clash was said to have taken place in Pedana.

YRSCP MLA and a voter attack each other

YRSCP MLA and a voter attack each other. (Screengrab)

In Tenali, YSRCP MLA Annabattula Shivakumar created a flutter when he slapped a voter. He later said the voter was drunk and was abusing him and his wife, who had gone there to exercise their franchise.

The trouble is said to have begun when the voter pointed out that he jumped the queue. The MLA slapped him, and the voter slapped him back. The supporters of the MLA also allegedly beat up the voter.

In Tadipatri, a BSF jawan sustained an eye injury when TDP and YSRCP men pelted stones at each other. Tensions escalated in Om Shanthi Nagar in Tadipatri when the two groups clashed.

TDP and YSRCP workers clashed in the Kothapalli village of the Pedakurpadu constituency in the Guntur district as well. Police swung into action and dispersed the two groups.

In the morning, a YSRCP booth agent named Suresh Reddy was attacked with a knife in the Chittoor district. He was admitted to a government hospital.

The incident took place in Krishnapuram. Election officials said the assailants were arrested and booked for attempted murder.

Related: BJP MP candidates heckle Muslim voters, officials inside polling booth

Polling in Telangana

In Telangana, polling had been brisk since the morning. Film actors and politicians were among those who turned up at the polling stations in the earlier part of the day.

Telangana Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy exercised his franchise in his native Kodangal Assembly segment, while his predecessor at the position — BRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao — cast his vote at his native village of Chintamadaka in the Siddipet district.

His son and BRS working president KT Rama Rao had cast his vote in Nandinagar in Hyderabad earlier.

After casting his vote with his family, KCR told reporters that he expected that regional parties would form a government at the Centre.

When pointed out the 75-year-age rule for BJP leaders to retire from public service, he said it applied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well. He said if the BJP respected its own rules, Modi should step down.

Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka and ministers Thummala Nageswara Rao and Ponguleti Srinivasa Reddy voted in the Khammam district. Transport Minister Ponnam Prabhakar went to Husnabad in an RTC bus and cast his vote.

Former Chief Justice of India N Ramana cast his vote in SR Nagar, while Haryana Governor Bandaru Dattatreya in Ramnagar and Union minister G Kishan Reddy and his family voted in Barkatpura. Kishan Reddy is the BJP candidate for Secunderabad, under which Barakatpura falls.

Related: BJP Lok Sabha candidate Madhavi Latha booked for obstructing police

Untoward incidents in Telangana

In Telangana, the Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency witnessed some tense moments when BJP candidate K Madhavi Latha went inside polling booths and sought to verify the identity of women — both voters and polling officials — by asking them to lift their burqas.

She also “ordered” the polling staff to identify each and every woman through their voter ID cards and other proofs of identity, and only then allow them to vote.

The election authorities took a serious view of the BJP candidate’s actions and registered a case against her at the Malakpet Police Station in Hyderabad for interfering in the polling process.

In another incident, the motorcades of AIMIM and that of Madhavi Latha came face to face under the Bhavani Nagar Police Station limits in Hyderabad Lok Sabha constituency, leading to tense moments.

The AIMIM activists rushed towards Madhavi Latha’s car but were persuaded to turn back by police. Madhavi Latha then got out of her car and stood outside for some time.

BJP leaders Arvind Dharmapuri and Madhavi Latha questioning voters.

BJP leaders Arvind Dharmapuri and Madhavi Latha questioning voters.

BJP’s Nizamabad candidate and sitting MP Arvind Dharmapuri was seen in a video chiding women for wearing a burqa in front of polling officials. He sought to know how their identity could be established.

The sitting MP also asked the election officials whether they were performing their duties or merely passing time. The incident occurred inside a polling booth.

In Janagaon, Congress and BRS workers entered into an argument which resulted in jostling for some time. The trouble broke out when Congress leader K Prasanth Reddy visited a polling booth in a school in Jangaon. The BRS workers, objecting to it, tried to prevent him.

BRS agent Praveen raised objections to Prashanth Reddy’s visit,  leading to heated exchanges. Meanwhile, BRS MLA Palla Rajeswar Reddy also arrived at the spot, further charging the atmosphere.

In Narayankhed, which comes under the Zaheerabad Lok Sabha constituency, Congress candidate Suresh Shetkar’s brother Nagesh allegedly attacked BJP workers who were issuing voter slips. Police personnel present there swung into action and brought the situation under control.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)