Tribal people turned up in large numbers at polling booths in the hilly tracts of Visakhapatnam on Thursday ignoring the poll boycott call given by Maoists.
The elections were held amid tight security against the backdrop of the killing of Araku MLA Kidari Sarveswara Rao and former MLA Siveri Soma by Maoists at Livitiput on September 23 last year.
At the Government Boys High School here, 3 km from Livitiput, serpentine queues were seen an hour before commencement of polling.
“Voting is our duty. Hence, we cast our vote in every election without fail,” Manim Tanngula, a farmer from Champapati, said.
EVMs failed to function initially in most polling booths in Araku and Paderu Assembly segments, which was rectified later with the intervention of ITDA Project Officer D.K. Balaji.
Girijans were seen making a beeline for the polling booths allotted to them from morning hours as their new year was observed here for three days on Thursday.
“I came in an autorickshaw at 6 am from Chilagunji, a distance of 6 km, so that I can return to attend to my farm work,” said Batnaik Kondaiah. Korra Purushottam, a graduate, from Pedagaruvu in Hukumpeta mandal, said he felt it a privilege to exercise his franchise for the first time in his life.
In the first three hours itself, 30% polling was recorded at the Government Tribal Welfare Ashram School at Boithili in G. Madugula mandal.
Braving hot sun in the early hours and thunder showers later, the tribal people waited for their turn to cast their vote.
The district administration strategically merged some polling booths with nearby ones and ensured voters reached them by engaging private vehicles. Such arrangements were made in the Naxal-affected areas such as G. Madugula, G.K. Veedhi, Pedabayalu, Koyyuru, and Chintapalle.
Despatch of polling material to the interior areas was deferred on Wednesday to the early hours of Thursday by keeping them in nearest police stations following an explosion triggered by Maoists in neighbouring Koraput district of Odisha.
“During my visit to various interior areas, I did not find any impact of the boycott call,” TDP MLA from Paderu, Giddi Eswari, said.