Barring a few incidents, polling in the first phase to elect sarpanches and ward members across the State went on peacefully on Tuesday. Elections were held for 2,723 gram panchayats to elect sarpanches and 20,157 ward members.
An overall polling percentage of 81.67 was recorded, with Krishna district recording the highest of 85.06, followed by Visakhapatnam (84.23) and Kurnool (83.55) districts. Srikakulam district recorded the lowest poll percentage of 75.77.
Polling began on a sedate note as just 11.28% was recorded at 8.30 a.m., and gradually increased to 34.28% by 10.30 a.m., 62.02% at 12.30 p.m., 75.55% by 2.30 p.m. and 81.67% by the end of the process at 3.30 p.m.
Counting of votes was still going on when the reports came in last but the trends indicated that the candidates supported by the ruling YSRCP were ahead in a majority of the seats. Since the elections were being fought on non-party basis, both YSRCP and TDP backed their respective candidates.
The polls would be held in four phases – February 9, 13, 17, 21.
Commissioner, Panchayat Raj, M. Girija Shankar monitored the situation from his office.
As results started coming in, supporters of the YSRCP celebrated at the party office in Tadepalli.
Polling satisfactory: SEC
Vijayawada Special Correspondent adds: The State Election Commissioner (SEC) Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar has expressed satisfaction on the completion of the first phase elections to gram panchayats in the State, on Tuesday.
In a statement, Mr. Ramesh Kumar said there was a very large turnout of voters with enthusiasm, to exercise their franchise. The election process had been, by and large, peaceful compared to the previous polls, barring a few stray incidents, he said.
The SEC applauded the efforts made by the Collectors and district election authorities, Superintendents of Police and the Observers and complimented the poll staff for their zeal and diligence. He also complimented the police personnel for the excellent security cover provided.
Mr. Ramesh Kumar said he was hopeful of the same to continue in the subsequent phases also and added that he viewed the Tuesday’s poll as a good beginning and omen to strengthen the democratic processes and the grassroot institutions.