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Hyderabad: Voter turnout in the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh—Seemandhra—rose to 76.01% at 6pm on Wednesday, the day when the state simultaneously elected representatives to the state assembly. The Voting continued in some segments till 8.30pm, when the state election commission released its final bulletin for the day.

The election—Lok Sabha and Assembly—is largely seen as a two-way contest between YSR Congress and the combine of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Jagan Mohan Reddy of YSR Congress and N. Chandrababu Naidu of TDP hold key and sway in the region, and both are chief ministerial candidates should their party comes to power.

Seemandhra, comprising Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh, will be officially separated from Telangana region on 2 June. The Telugu-speaking state is going to elections as a united state but will elect governments of Telangana and Seemandhra once the electoral outcome is known.

A total of 3.67 crore voters were eligible to cast their ballots for 333 candidates, who are in the race for 25 Lok Sabha constituencies and 2,241 candidates who are in the fray for 175 assembly seats in Seemandhra. Voters of Telangana exercised their franchise on 30 April.

Based on discussions with district collectors, chief electoral officer Bhanwar Lal said polling percentage could conclude at 78-80%, which is higher than the 76% voter turnout recorded across the 13 districts during 2009 elections.

Guntur (83%) registered the highest polling percentage since voting began at 7am while Visakhapatnam district polled the least at 73%, Lal said. Polling percentages for the other districts at 6pm were: Srikakulam (76%), Vizianagaram (78%), East Godavari (78%), West Godavari (77%), Krishna (80%), Kurnool (76%), Prakasam (80%), Nellore (73%), Chittoor (78%), Kadapa (75%) and Anantapur (80%). Barring West Godavari district, which polled 84% in 2009, all the other districts showed improvement in polling percentages, Lal noted at a media briefing.

“Every district polled minimum 75%. This shows that voters expect political parties to do justice to every district," said E. Venkatesu, the political science professor at University of Hyderabad. “In Seemandhra, people are making an attempt to reinforce their hopes in political institutions that they will build a decentralized state capital."​

Barring a few sporadic incidents of violence, including an attack on mediapersons in Chittoor, polling was by and large peaceful, Lal said. Police shot several rounds in the air in Rentachintala village in Guntur district to disperse quarrelling groups. District authorities have been directed to take the accused into custody. “The day was good though there was little tension in the morning, but afternoon went very peaceful, now (it is) very, very peaceful," Lal said on Wednesday evening.

An additional superintendent of police Appala Naidu was injured in a scuffle between supporters of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress in Jammalamadugu segment in Kadapa district. Police vehicles were also damaged in the process. Five unidentified persons, four men and a woman, entered a polling station in Koyyuru mandal in Paderu assembly segment around 2.51pm and destroyed two EVMs and a jeep stationed there for polling personnel. The state’s director general of police (DGP) Prasada Rao described them as “militants" at a press briefing.

Paderu in Visakhapatnam has been identified as a sensitive constituency owing to Naxalite activity. Lal said police personnel have not been stationed inside the polling booth. Instead, they have been asked to keep a watch in surrounding areas, he said. Lal said he would recommend the election commission to order a re-polling at the polling booth concerned before 16 May, when the results would be announced.

Several incidents of stone-pelting between supporters of YSR Congress and TDP took place in some segments of Kadapa, Guntur, Kurnool and Prakasam districts, television visuals showed.

TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu alleged booth capturing and rigging by supporters of YSR Congress in some constituencies and requested the chief election officer to order re-polling in 43 polling booths in Singamala (Anantapur district), Mydukur and Jammalamadugu (Kadapa), Atmakur (Nellore) and Punganur (Chittoor) seats. But Lal said polling process has not been affected in any of the districts.

The elections, both Lok Sabha and Assembly, are largely seen as a two-way contest between YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine. Indian National Congress’s (INC) popularity has nosedived since it embarked on the exercise to divide Andhra.

In a surprising move on Tuesday, some candidates of Jai Samaikhyandhra Party, floated by former chief minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, withdrew from the electoral race in the last minute to boost the prospects of the TDP in the assembly elections. To come to power, the winning party or alliance should gain a simple majority of 88 seats in the new Seemandhra assembly.

YSR Congress president Jagan Mohan Reddy is contesting from Pulivendula assembly constituency in Kadapa district while TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu is in the fray from Kuppam assembly constituency in Chittoor district. Both are chief ministerial candidates should their party come to power.

Other high profile politicians who are trying to get elected on Lok Sabha ticket are D. Purandeswari (Rajampet), Kishore Chandra Deo (Araku), Kotla Jayasurya Prakash Reddy (Kurnool) and Y.S. Vijayalakshmi (Visakhapatnam).

While polling continued till 6pm in most of the constituencies, maoist-affected Araku, Paderu, Kurupam, Parvathipuram, Saluru, Rampachodavaram, Pedakurapadu, Vinukonda, Gurajala and Macherla assembly constituencies concluded voting process an hour or two earlier.

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