Over 40% polling in Munugode assembly elections till 1 pm

Hyderabad: Over 40 per cent polling was recorded by 1 p.m. in the by-election to Munugode Assembly seat in Telangana on Thursday, poll officials said.

The polling, which began on a dull note at 7 a.m., picked up momentum after 9 a.m. as a large number of voters, including women, turned out to cast their votes.

According to officials at the office of Telangana Chief Electoral Office (CEO), 41.30 per cent voter turnout was recorded by 11 a.m.

CEO Vikas Raj told reporters that barring minor incidents, the polling process was underway in a smooth and peaceful manner.

The polling process at all 298 polling stations in the constituency in Nalgonda district will continue till 6 p.m.

Over 2.41 lakh electorate, half of them women, are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the political fortunes of 47 candidates.

Political parties expect that the polling percentage this time will be higher than 2018 when 91.38 per cent of votes were polled.

Poll authorities were monitoring the process through webcasting from all polling stations.

For the smooth conduct of the polling process, 1,492 polling personnel have been deployed. The poll authorities have also deployed 199 micro observers.

As many as 3,366 state police personnel and 15 companies of central forces have been deployed to ensure peaceful and free and fair polling. The authorities were especially focusing on 105 polling stations which have been identified as critical.

For the first time, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has issued new EPIC cards with six security features, including a hologram.

There are a total of 47 candidates in the fray, but the main contest is among three major players — TRS, BJP and Congress.

The bypoll was necessitated after sitting MLA Komatireddy Rajagopal Reddy resigned from the Congress to join the BJP in August. Reddy is now contesting on the BJP ticket.

The TRS has fielded former MLA Kusukuntla Prabhakar Reddy, who had lost to Rajagopal Reddy in 2018.

The Congress has fielded Palvai Sravanthi Reddy, daughter of former MP Palvai Goverdhan Reddy.

Meanwhile, the main contesting parties have traded allegations of using money and liquor to influence the voters. TRS leader and energy minister Jagadish Reddy complained to the CEO that the BJP distributed cash and liquor among the voters at various places in the constituency. He also alleged that the BJP leaders had been resorting to protests in violation of rules.

BJP candidate Rajagopal Reddy alleged that several non-local TRS leaders were present in the constituency and they were threatening the voters.

State BJP president Bandi Sanjay claimed that the TRS MLAs and leaders were distributing cash among the voters. He lodged a complaint with the CEO.

The CEO said 42 people were sent out of the constituency following complaints about the presence of non-locals. He termed as unfortunate the use of money to lure the voters.

In 2018, Rajagopal Reddy had won Munugode seat on a Congress ticket, defeating his nearest rival K. Prabhakar Reddy of TRS by 23,552 votes.

Prabhakar Reddy was elected in 2014. This was the first victory of TRS in the constituency which was traditionally dominated by the Congress and CPI.

This time both CPI and CPI-M declared their support to the TRS.

The counting of votes will be taken up on November 6.

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