NDTV Correspondent | Updated: June 12, 2012 15:36 IST
As many as 46 lakh voters are expected to exercise their franchise at 5,413 polling stations set up in the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency and 18 assembly segments spread over 12 districts in the state. Till 2 pm, 61 per cent voting was registered. The polling will continue till 5 pm.
The 18 assembly constituencies where by-polls are underway are: Parkal, Narsannapeta, Payakaraopet, Ramachandrapuram, Narasapuram, Polavaram (ST), Prathipadu (SC), Macherla, Ongole, Udayagiri, Rajampet, Kodur (SC), Rayachoti, Allagadda, Yemmiganur, Rayadurg, Anantapur Urban and Tirupati.
In 16 of the 18 assembly seats that vote today, by-elections are being held because the sitting Congress MLAs were disqualified by the Assembly Speaker for switching loyalties to the YSR Congress and voting against the Congress government during a no-trust vote in December last year. If Jagan Reddy's party wins these seats, it will have bitten a chunk out of the 156 seats that the Congress had won in 2009 in the 294-member Assembly.
Jagan Mohan Reddy is currently lodged in Chanchalguda Jail in Hyderabad. He was arrested by the CBI on May 27 in connection with a disproportionate assets case against him. This has kept him away from the campaign trail for the last two weeks. But observers say the campaigning by his mother YS Vijaya and sister Sharmila has generated a "sympathy wave" for his party.
Jagan's father and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YSR Reddy died in a helicopter crash in 2009. Jagan split with the Congress and formed his own party, the YSR Congress, after this. The CBI is investigating allegations that YSR Reddy and some of his ministers handed benefits to companies that invested in Jagan Mohan Reddy's businesses. Some of those ministers are still members of the Congress cabinet and are being questioned in the case, much to the ruling party's discomfort.
Poll pundits say the YSR Congress has an edge in these elections and is likely to win a majority of the seats, as most of the candidates who won on Congress tickets in 2009 are Jagan loyalists. Analysts also say that a result in favour of the YSR Congress may lead to desertions from the Congress and the main opposition, TDP.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made in the state to ensure peaceful polling. At most places, the voting has so far been peaceful. However, there are reports of mild lathicharge in Railway Kodur constituency in Kadapa after some men refused to leave polling premises after voting. No one is said to be hurt in this.
Two villagers each in Kovvur and Kavali have boycotted the polls.
In 16 polling booths, the electronic Voting machines had to be replaced.
In Tirupati, actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi had resigned as MLA after he was elected to the Rajya Sabha, which has resulted in the by-poll.
Parkal is the only one seat going for bypoll in the Telangana region. Here, the YSR Congress candidate Konda Surekha had resigned as minister and MLA in support of Jagan Mohan Reddy. Though the Telangana sentiment is strong, the split of votes between the Telangana Rashtryia Samiti (TRS), which many believe has an edge, and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to give the YSR Congress an advantage.
Enthused by their win in Mahbubnagar in the recent by-polls, the BJP is hoping to do a repeat in Parkal. Pollsters predict a three-cornered fight between the TRS, BJP and YSR Congress. The Congress and Telugu Desam (TDP) are expected to come in at four and five.
In the Nellore Lok Sabha constituency, Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy of the YSR Congress is locked in a keen tussle with former union minister T. Subbarami Reddy of the ruling Congress party. Rajamohan Reddy, who was elected on Congress ticket in 2009 elections, resigned last year after switching loyalties to Jagan's YSR Congress.
In the run up to these polls, over Rs. 42 crore in cash and valuable items like gold and silver worth Rs. 12 crore were seized from the state. This amount is higher than the Rs. 38 crore seized during the 2009 general elections.
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