Hyderabad, March 30: Polling was underway Sunday for elections to 146 municipalities and 10 municipal corporations in Andhra Pradesh amid tight security and sporadic incidents of violence.
In what is being described as the semifinal before the general elections, polling began at 7 a.m. for the urban local bodies in both Telangana and Seemandhra.
Over 95 lakh voters are eligible to cast votes to elect candidates for 3,990 wards in 146 municipalities, and 2,507 divisions in 10 municipal corporations.
According to state election commissioner Ramakanth Reddy, there are 17,864 contestants in the fray in the municipalities and another 3,343 candidates are testing their fortunes in the corporations.
Voters stood in long queues in the early hours to cast their votes. Official said voters were preferring the morning time to escape the afternoon heat.
Police used force to disperse activists of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), who were staging a protest outside a polling centre at Badvel in Kadapa district. Both the parties had accused an independent candidate of rigging.
Police arrested a YSRCP leader in Madakasira in Anantapur district when he was bringing voters to the polling centres in his vehicles.
Tension prevailed at a polling centre at Markapuram in Prakasam district when TDP polling agents staged protest over not receiving authorization letters from election authorities.
There are 67.87 lakh voters in the municipalities and 27.48 lakh voters in the corporations.
As many as 53,370 policemen in addition to personnel from Andhra Pradesh Special Police and the central paramilitary forces have been deployed as part of elaborate security arrangements.
All the political parties are taking the municipal polls seriously as they will reflect the mood of the electorate before the polls to the assembly and Lok Sabha April 30 in Telangana and May 7 in Seemandhra.
As per the schedule announced by the state election commission, the results of the municipal elections are to be announced April 2. However, fearing its impact on the general elections, all the parties have urged the commission not to declare the results before May 7.
The state high court is expected to pronounce orders April 1 on a petition, seeking direction to the election commission not to announce the results before May 7.
The municipal elections are being held after a gap after three years as the Congress government had been delaying the polls since October 2010. Acting on the orders of the high court, which took serious note of the delay in conducting the polls, the election commission early this month announced the election schedule.