The stage is set for polling in the crucial by-elections to 18 assembly constituencies and one Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh today. As many as 46,13,589 voters would 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.
The election authorities say elaborate arrangements have been made for the polling. 50,000 polling personnel including 138 companies of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) have been deployed to ensure peaceful polling, State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Bhanwar Lal told reporters on Monday.
The polling will be held from 8 AM to 5 PM.
By-polls are necessitated in 16 of the 18 assembly seats as the sitting Congress MLAs were disqualified by the Assembly Speaker for switching loyalty to YSR Congress chief and Kadapa MP YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and voting against the Congress government during a no-trust vote in December last year.
In one constituency, the sitting MLA had quit in support of Mr Reddy, while actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi had resigned as MLA after he was elected to the Rajya Sabha, which caused a by-poll in another seat.
Ahead of the by-elections, over Rs 42 crore in cash and valuable items like gold and silver worth Rs 12 crore have been seized. This is a figure higher than the Rs 38 crore seized during the 2009 general elections, Mr Lal said.
In one instance, Rs 14 lakh in cash was seized from the office of a major political party, he said.
Replying to a query, Mr Lal said that directions have been issued to ask State Minister K Parthasarthy to leave the temple town of Tirupati as outsiders are not supposed to stay put in the poll-bound constituency ahead of the elections.