Above 70 pc turnout in AP, TN bypolls

Above 70 pc turnout in AP, TN bypolls

A crucial Assembly by-election from Sankarankovil in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu passed off peacefully amid brisk polling on Sunday. A turnout of 75 per cent was reported from there.

The by-election to this reserved constituency for Dalits, is to fill the vacancy caused due to the sudden death of the former AIADMK minister S Karuppasamy, a veteran four-time winner from Sankarankovil.

The AIADMK, this time, has fielded a woman candidate S Muthuselvi to contest for the seat. However, Chief minister J Jayalalitha has been extra careful not to precipitate any decision on the controversial Kudankulam Nuclear power project (KNPP) located in the same district.

Nonetheless, it turned into a ‘prestige’ contest for all the candidates in the fray—DMK’s Jawahar Suryakumar, Dr S Thirumalaikumar of MDMK, Muthukumar of DMDK and Murugan, who’s contesting as a BJP candidate. The Congress is backing the DMK candidate in this by-election.

Meanwhile, seven Assembly seats in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh witnessed a massive turnout of voters in the Sunday’s by-election. An average of 70 per cent polling was registered, with Kovvur in the coastal district of Nellore recording nearly 81 per cent of voters’ turnout.

Six of the seven Assembly constituencies are in Telangana region where the public mood regarding the statehood demand will again be tested in these elections. The State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Bhanwar Lal said that the polling passed off peacefully without any untoward incident.

The by-polls are also significant for the fledgling YSR Congress Party, headed by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, as the party faces the first electoral test outside his home turf of Kadapa. Its candidate N Prasanna Kumar Reddy, who had defected from the Telugu Desam Party, is seeking re-election from Kovvur.

The by-elections to five of the seven constituencies were caused by the resignations of sitting MLAs in support of the Telangana statehood demand. The death of the sitting MLA caused the by-poll in Mahabubnagar while in Kovur, the resignation of Prasanna Kumar Reddy, led to the by-election.

Even the die-hard optimists in the ruling Congress are not willing to bet on their party candidates in any of the seven seats. “It is widely believed that all those who had resigned their seats will get re-elected. There is no chance for us in these polls,” a senior Congress MP from Vijayawada L Rajagopal said.

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