Tight security for counting in Andhra Pradesh

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Amaravati, May 22 (IANS) The stage is set for counting of votes in Andhra Pradesh Assembly and Lok Sabha elections on Thursday amid tight security arrangements.

With both Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress Party expressing apprehension that other might resort to violence, elaborate security arrangements were made at the counting centres across the state.

Election Commission of India observer (law and order) K. K. Sharma along with Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Gopala Krishna Dwivedi reviewed the security arrangements on Wednesday

About 25,000 policemen from state force were deployed as part of the massive security arrangements. Election officials said 35 companies of central paramilitary forces were also deployed while the Centre was sending another 10 companies.

The Election Commission has ordered closure of liquor shops and bars across the state in view of the counting.

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The CEO said the counting process would begin at 8 a.m. with the counting of postal and service votes. The counting of votes stored in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) will be taken up at 8.30. In case of technical snags in EVMs, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips will be counted.

He expects that trends would be available by noon. The results, however, will be declared after random counting of VVPAT slips from five machines in each Assembly segment.

The poll officials have arranged 350 counting halls at 36 places across the state. There will be an observer each for Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies.

Elections to 175-member state Assembly and 25 Lok Sabha seats were held in a single phase on April 11.

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About 80 percent of 3.93 crore voters had cast their votes, deciding the fortunes of 319 candidates for Lok Sabha seats and 2,118 candidates for Assembly seats.

Chief Minister and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu, YSRCP leader Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Jana Sena president and actor Pawan Kalyan, Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh, brother-in-law and actor N. Balakrishna were among the prominent candidates in Assembly polls.

The TDP is confident of retaining power while YSRCP is equally sure of wresting it. Mixed predictions by the exit polls have added to the political heat in the state.

–IANS

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