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Nandyal bypoll begins after fiery campaign by TDP, YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-08-2017 Yunus Y. Lasania

Hyderabad: After days of hectic campaigning by the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and main opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP), the fiercely contested Nandyal by-election in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh began here on Wednesday.

Polling began at 7am, and will continue till 6pm. Section 144 has also been imposed for 48 hours (starting a day ago) in the area, disallowing people to assemble in public.

The by-election is expected to set the tone for the 2019 general elections with regard to the winning party. Over the past few weeks, TDP and opposition YSRCP ran high-pitched campaigns.

Rs1.16 crore was seized in cash in the run-up to the by-election, 2,253 litres of liquor has been seized so far, with 308 (liquor) prohibition cases being booked, and 263 persons arrested in connection with them by district authorities, according to data from the Andhra Pradesh Election Commission.

Also Read: Day before Nandyal bypoll, TDP and YSR Congress file complaints against each other

The Nandyal seat fell vacant when sitting MLA Bhuma Nagi Reddy died of a cardiac arrest in March. Having won on a YSRCP ticket in the 2014 general elections, he defected to the TDP about a year ago along with his daughter and Allagadda MLA Bhuma Akhila Priya, who is the current minister for culture and tourism in Andhra Pradesh.

The twist here is the YSRCP’s candidate choice, Silpa Mohan Reddy, who had contested against Nagi Reddy from the TDP in 2014 and lost by over 3,000 votes. Mohan Reddy had won the same seat twice in 2004 and 2009 from the Congress earlier. A day before the Nandyal by-election in Andhra Pradesh, both TDP and YSRCP leaders lodged complaints with the state Election Commission (EC) against each other, alleging violation of the code of conduct.

Also Read: Nandyal bypoll a litmus test for Rayalaseema statehood demand?

While experts believe that the YSRCP is expected to gain from the minority vote bank in the by-election, the entry of Byreddy Rajasekhar Reddy’s Rayalaseema Parirakshana Samithi (RPS), whose primary demand is the Rayalaseema region’s (Kurnool, Anantapur, Chittoor and Cudappah districts of Andhra Pradesh) statehood, might change the state’s political landscape if it makes inroads.

According to the state EC, a total of 15 registered parties and independents are contesting the bypoll. The constituency has a total of 219,108 voters, of which 107,978 are men, 111,068 women and 62 of the third gender. The by-election will also have the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) in all of its 255 polling stations.

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