South coastal districts gear up for fourth phase of polls

The stage is set for the fourth and final phase of the gram panchayat elections in south coastal Andhra Pradesh on Sunday.

Unseasonal rains under the influence of a weather system in the Bay of Bengal kept officials on tenterhooks in the districts of Nellore and Prakasam.

Officials had a tough time during distribution of polling material in the Nellore revenue division. โ€œWe are fully geared up to hold the elections by putting waterproof tents,โ€ said Nellore Collector K.V.N. Chakradhar Babu while overseeing arrangements for holding of the elections for 181 sarpanch and 1,527 ward member seats.

Noting that there had been slackness in observing COVID-19 protocols such as wearing masks and practising social distancing, the Collector said there could be no complacency as active cases could again shoot up if safety norms were not strictly followed.

Sarpanches have already been elected unanimously in 55 villages. As many as 810 ward members have also been elected unopposed. An electorate of 4.42 lakh voters will decide the electoral fortunes of 475 candidates for the sarpanch post and 3,303 candidates for the ward member post.

โ€œAdditional staff members have been pressed into service to ensure that the counting of votes polled is over by 9 p.m.,โ€ he said. The entire process would be webcast/videographed in 150 hyper-senstive polling stations. As many as 150 volunteers of the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) will assist elderly people as also differently-abled persons to vote.

In Prakasam district, 4.43 lakh voters will vote to decide the fate of 472 candidates in the fray for the sarpanch post and 2,664 candidates for the ward member post in Markapur division in the elections to be held amid beefed up security, district panchayat office officials said. As many as 40 sarpanch and 856 ward member candidates have already been elected uncontested in the revenue division, an erstwhile Maoist stronghold.

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