A few incidents of violence, mainly in Guntur district, marred Sunday the fourth and final phase of the gram panchayat elections in Andhra Pradesh, which saw 81.78% of the polls.
Police have carried out lathi indictments in a few places in Guntur district to quell the crowds that clashed while candidates’ poll officials were allegedly beaten in some places, police sources said.
In Sattenapalli constituency, agents of rival candidates clashed inside a polling station and were injured. Both were taken to hospital for treatment.
In the village of Mutluru near Guntur, a polling officer attempted to self-immolate himself after rivals allegedly beat him inside a polling station, the sources said.
This led to tensions in the village, with villagers alleging that the police remained silent onlookers while the criminals jumped over the wall of the polling station and led the attack on the officer.
“Some stray incidents are happening, but we have acted quickly. We will bring the culprits involved in the violent incidents to book,” Guntur Urban District Police Superintendent Ammi Reddy told reporters.
He said a strong police force had been deployed under the direct supervision of a deputy superintendent of police to prevent untoward incidents, given the sensitive nature of the polling station.
In the East Godavari district, two elderly men collapsed and died after practicing their franchise in separate villages, in what were suspected to be cases of heart attacks.
The rain did not dampen the spirits of voters who lined up in good numbers to exercise their right to vote in some terms in the SPS Nellore District, State Election Commission sources said.
During the fourth phase, a ballot was held to elect 2,743 village sarpanches and 22,423 parish members in 3,299 gram panchayats.
Already, 554 sarpanches have been declared elected without opposition.
According to the State Election Commission, more than 80% of the polls were recorded in each of the four phases of the panchayat election.
After a lengthy confrontation between YS government Jagan Mohan Reddy and State Election Commissioner N Ramesh Kumar and the resulting legal battle, the gram panchayat elections, the lowest level of the Panchayat Raj structure, took place in four phases between February 9. and 21.
Although the panchayat elections were conducted on an apolitical basis, the ruling YSR Congress claimed to have won over 82% of the village’s organs.
The main opposition party Telugu Desam, however, said panchayat polls proved the people rejected the draconian regime of Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The urban local government elections, scheduled for March 10, will be a direct fight between political parties, just as polls by Mandal and Zilla Parishads the second and third levels of the Panchayat Raj structure will also show the real strength of the parties. .
The SEC has yet to announce the election dates for Mandal and Zilla Parishad, which were abruptly postponed to March of last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, as it seeks legal advice on the way forward.