» Election » Andhra under intense security cover for counting

Andhra under intense security cover for counting

By Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
May 15, 2009 23:06 IST
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With the intelligence agencies warning of caste riots after the results are declared on Saturday, the police have tightened the security arrangements in politically sensitive regions of the coastal and Rayala Seema regions of Andhra Pradesh.

The police have also imposed propitiatory orders under section 144 for 48 hours in the state capital Hyderabad to ensure law and order during and after the counting of votes.

The additional director general of police A K Khan told media persons that about 300 policemen will be deployed in and around the 106 counting centres across the state where the votes for the 42 Lok Sabha and 294 assembly seats will be taken up from 8 am on Saturday.

"No body will be allowed to enter the counting centres with out proper authorisation," Khan said. The security arrangements at every polling booth will be supervised by a senior officer. People will not be allowed to gather outside the counting centres, he said.

The Hyderabad city police commissioner B Prasad Rao ordered the closure of liquor shops, bars and restaurants from 6 am Saturday till the evening. No candidate will be allowed to take out the victory processions and bursting of crackers at public places has been banned.

In many districts the police authorities have refused to grant permission for the victory procession. The state intelligence has warned that with caste tension mounting in many areas of coastal Andhra and Rayala Seema, even a small friction can cause outbreak of violence.

The Chief Electoral Officer I V Subba Rao, who has earned a lot of goodwill by ensuring smooth, free and peaceful elections in the state, held a video conference with the district collectors and asked them not to leave any thing to chance.

Subba Rao said that 25,000 training personnel were being deployed for the counting of votes using the electronic voting machines. He said that carrying mobile phones inside the counting centres was banned and any body trying to enter the centres without permission will be arrested immediately. "A maximum of four persons will be allowed to be present at the time of handing over the certificate to the elected candidates," he said.

Initially the postal votes will be taken up for counting at 8 am and thereafter the electronic voting machines will be opened for counting of votes. As each round is expected to take around 20 minutes, the first trend is likely to be available by 8.30 am and the entire process will be completed by 4 pm.

The result of each round will be made available through the internet as the figures of every round will be fed in to the online computers by the counting officers. To ensure every thing goes smoothly, IV Subba Rao said that every activity in a counting centre will be video graphed.

Meanwhile, all the political parties were keeping their fingers crossed and the top leaders were all active behind the scenes, not showing their nervousness and anxiety in the public.

The Telugu Desam Party president and a leading light of the Third Front Chandrababu Naidu was in touch with the Left leaders over phone on Friday. He also spoke to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President J Jayalalithaa and Bahujan Samaj Party supreme Mayawati seeking to ensure that both the ladies remains with the front.

On the other hand the senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M Venkakaiah Naidu also spoke to the TDP chief seeking his support to the National Democratic Alliance.

The Congress leaders on the other hand, were out to woo Praja Rajyam President Chiranjeevi and the telephone lines were burning between the two sides. Most of the exit polls hinting at the possibility of first ever hung assembly in Andhra Pradesh, the Congress leaders calculate that the PRP will be of immense value to them in forming a coalition government.

But the PRP sources have said that even if they win 60 assembly seats, they will claim the post of the Chief Minister for Chiranjeevi.  A lot of hard bargaining is likely to happen between the two parties if Congress emerges as the single largest party.

Despite various exit polls giving a gloomy projection for the PRP both in the Parliament and the assembly, the PRP workers celebrated the "victory" a day in advance. They burst crackers outside the party office in Jubilee Hills exuding confidence that Chiranjeevi will become the next Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, a confused Congress party came under attack from with in. Madhu Goud Yashki, party's candidate from Nizamabad Lok Sabha constituency in Telangana region fired the first salvo against the Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, saying that the opposition Grand Alliance was going to win majority of the seats in Telangana region because of the wrong strategy of Congress.

He said that he and the state Congress president D Srinivas had pressed for Congress alliance with the Telangana Rashtra Samithi. "Going alone in the polls was a big mistake and it will prove costly," Goud said.

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Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad