Huge turnout in first phase of AP local polls

Panchayat elections in Andhra Pradesh got off to an enthusiastic start with nearly 80 per cent voters turning up to cast their votes in the first phase of polling. Among the districts that went to the polls on Tuesday, only Adilabad registered the lowest of 60 per cent voting.

Polling in four panchayats was postponed due to technical issues while polling parties failed to reach 11 booths in Adilabad and Visakhapatnam districts.

Barring stray incidents of group clashes between political rivals, polling in 5,903 gram panchayats, spread over 22 districts, was  peaceful and brisk, the officials of the State Election Commission said. In all, 21,491 Panchayats are going to the polls in three phases. The second and third phase of polling will be held on July 27 and 31.

Elections to the local bodies, the lowest in the three-tier panchayat raj Institutions in the state, are being held after two years and seen as a trial run for the 2014 Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.

Taking place in the backdrop of the Telangana statehood issue reaching fever pitch, the outcome would give an inkling on the prevailing public mood.

Four people were injured in a clash between supporters of the ruling Congress and YSR Congress Party in Kurnool district. Supporters of the two parties also clashed at a few places in Kadapa district.

According to the State Election Commission, over 18,000 candidates are in the fray for sarpanch posts.

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