Vijayawada: The first phase of gram panchayat polls went off peacefully with average poll percentage registered at 81.67 in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday.
As the polling started at 6.30 am in all 12 districts, the turnout of voters was sluggish during the initial hours and soon picked up pace and a large number of voters started to turn up at the polling booths to exercise their franchise.
Accordingly, when the average state poll percentage was registered at 11.28 at 8.30 am, it soon picked up pace and registered at 34.28 by 10.30 am. By 12.30 pm, the average poll percentage was 62.02 and by 2.30 pm, it was 75.55. By 3.30 pm at which time, the polling was concluded, the state average was 81.67.
District-wise poll percentage includes: Srikakulam-75.77, Visakhapatnam-84.23, East Godavari-82.80, West Godavari-80.29, Krishna-85.06, Guntur-83.04, Prakasam-80.92, Nellore-80.62, Chittoor-83.47, Kadapa-78, Kurnool-83.55 and Anantapur-82.80. The highest poll percentage in the state was registered in Krishna district at 85.06 and the lowest was at Srikakulam at 75.77.
The State Election Commission held polling for election of sarpanchs to 2,723 gram panchayats and also for 20,157 ward members for a total of 3,249 positions of sarpanch and 32,502 positions of ward members. The remaining positions 525 sarpanchs and 12,185 positions of ward members were elected unanimously. Election was not held for the position of sarpanch at Velicharla gram panchayat in Nellore district as no nomination was filed.
Meanwhile, state election commissioner N. Ramesh Kumar expressed satisfaction over successful completion of gram panchayat polls in phase-1 in the state and also for huge turnout of voters with enthusiasm to exercise their franchise. He said that the election was held by and large peacefully compared with previous times, barring a few incidents. He appreciated the District Collectors, SPs, observers and the polling staff for conduct of elections peacefully. He wished the same trend to be continued in the next phase of polls in the state.
With regard to stray incidents during the polling, police took a sarpanch contestant of Kothapalli gram panchayat of S.R. Puram mandal in Chittoor district for allegedly pouring water in the ballot box. In Kadapa district, police took some people into custody on charges of distributing nose studs to women to influence them at Duvvuri mandal. In Prakasam district, police seized cash when it was being distributed to the voters at Sudivaripalem of Inkollu mandal. So was the case at Thokalapudi village of Veeravasaram mandal in West Godavari, as the police caught a sarpanch contestant on charges of distribution of cash to the voters.