Huzurabad: Voters in Huzurabad turned up in large numbers to exercise their franchise and in the process triggered confusion among pollsters as to which party could benefit from the huge turnout. By the time polling ended at 7 pm, the constituency, which has nearly 2.37 lakh voters, recorded 86.33 per cent turnout.

The ballot boxes, which seal the fate of 30 candidates, principal among them were Gellu Srinivas Yadav, the nominee of the ruling TRS and Eatala Rajender, who represented the BJP, after his ouster from the State Cabinet on land grab allegations and his subsequent resignation from Assembly, which led to the bypoll. The Congress which fielded a debutante — Balmuri Venkat Narsing Rao is nowhere in the fray if the polling trends are any indication.

That it is going to be a touch and go affair for both Srinivas and Rajendar was evident from the morning with voters, especially women turning up in large numbers. So politically surcharged was the atmosphere in the Huzurabad constituency that workers of both TRS and BJP clashed at several polling stations accusing each other of trying to influence voters. But on the whole, the bypoll was conducted peacefully barring these sporadic clashes. The ballot boxes have been shifted to Karimnagar district headquarters. The counting will take place at SRR degree college on November 2.

Polling was brisk right from the word go on Saturday. Srinivas Yadav had exercised his franchise at a polling station in Himmathnagar of Veenavanka mandal and Eatala exercised his voting right at a polling booth in Kandula village of Huzurabad mandal. Voters queued up at the polling stations since 7 am onwards across the constituency. At a couple of places, the TRS and the BJP entered into heated arguments accusing each other of violating the model code of conduct and also trying to influence the voters. Intermittent skirmishes between the cadre of the ruling TRS and the BJP were reported from Ganmukla village in Veenavanka mandal, Jammikunta, and a few other villages.

TRS leader Padi Kaushik Reddy was obstructed by the BJP leaders at a few polling stations, though he was authorised by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to visit all polling stations as the chief election agent for TRS. The TRS had lodged a complaint with the ECI alleging that Eatala Rajender and his wife Jamuna had violated the model code of conduct and addressed a press meet during the 72-hour silent period to be observed till the polling concludes.

The TRS leaders also complained against two vernacular news channels for live telecasting the press meet. The police are learnt to have seized three vehicles belonging to Rajender and also arrested his public relations officer Chaitanya for spreading false and derogatory reports on social media.

Authorities made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the polling. Over 3,800 police personnel along with 20 companies of central forces were deployed in the constituency that covered five mandals of Huzurabad, Jammikunta, Veenavanka, Illandakunta and Kamalapur. Despite arrangements being made to ensure Covid appropriate behaviour at the polling stations, people did not seem to have followed any protocols and failed to maintain physical distancing.

Chief Electoral Officer Shashank Goel along with district Collector and election officer RV Karnan inspected the facilities at various polling stations. Additional security arrangements have been made in 127 of the total 306 polling stations in the constituency, which have been identified as critical and sensitive.

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