Polling began on Monday in by-elections to the Karimnagar and Bobbili Lok Sabha constituencies in Andhra Pradesh amid elaborate security arrangements.
In Karimnagar, polling began on a dull note at 8.00 am. Around 20 pe rcent votes were cast in the first two hours in the key constituency, which may decide the future of the movement for separate statehood for Telangana region.
According to reports reaching Hyderabad, a huge turnout was seen in the early hours in parts of the Bobbili constituency in Vijiyanagaram in north coastal Andhra.
Barring minor incidents, the polling is said to progress peacefully in both the constituencies.
While the resignation of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) President KR Chandrasekhara Rao necessitated the by-election in Karimnagar, the death of sitting member of the opposition Telugu Desam Party caused the by-poll in Bobbili.
More than 1.4 million voters in Karimnagar will decide the fate of Chandrasekhara Rao, whose party had quit the Congress-led United Progressive Aalliance (UPA) government at the centre in August to protest the delay in carving out a separate Telangana state.
He had subsequently quit the Lok Sabha while accepting the challenge thrown by a leader of ruling Congress party.
Electronic voting machines are being used at all 1,550 polling stations in the constituency, which is witnessing a keen multi-cornered contest. Congress has fielded its legislator T Jeevan Reddy while L Ramna of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and former union minister Vidyasagar Rao of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are also in the fray.
Tight security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair polling and authorities evicted all outsiders including family members of Chandrasekhara Rao from the constituency. Police sealed all the entry points to the constituency and raided several places to seize liquor.
The bitter election campaign in Karimnagar saw the Election Commission issuing a notice to Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy for allegedly violating the model code of conduct during the campaigning. Chandrasekhara Rao was booked for trespassing into the house of a retired teacher. The TRS chief had raided the house on the pretext of checking distribution of liquor and money by the Congress.
Bobbili is witnessing a direct contest between the TDP and Congress. While TDP has fielded Kondapalli Appala Naidu, son of sitting member Pydithalli Naidu, who died recently, Congress has fielded Minister for Marketing Botsa Satyanarayana's wife Jhansi.