Political Pickle

On 23 May, how much of Andhra will be `vulnerable’?

T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi Live with the details

Anticipating trouble soon after the counting gets over by 23 May late afternoon, the Andhra Pradesh police have posted 37 companies (3700 men) of the AP Special Police in 70 specific locations across Rayalaseema, Palnadu area and East and West Godavari. These locations have been clinically identified as part of a Vulnerability Mapping exercise undertaken together by the police and the revenue department. 

“We expect post-counting violence or at least skirmishes in some of these places. These include villages which may have taken money from both political parties but ended up voting for one of them. Or places where there is possibility of caste violence. We have also taken into account places with history of previous violence or with faction-related family rivalries, especially in Rayalaseema,” a senior police official told Filter Kaapi

The Andhra police are wiser from experience. On polling day on 11 April, one of the reasons why violence broke out in many places especially in Guntur, Anantapur and Kurnool districts was because the police was badly outnumbered. 

“We had requested for 350 companies but they sent only 180. As a result, we were very thinly spread,” says the senior officer. 

In addition to the state special police, the Andhra police have asked for 10 companies of paramilitary forces to guard the counting centres. The rules do not permit the state police to man the counting centres. Already 20 companies of paramilitary forces have been guarding the 36 centres where the EVMs are stored since 11 April when the voting took place. 

The election in Andhra Pradesh has been seen as a do-or-die battle with both Telugu Desam and YSR Congress claiming they will come to power. Given the bitterness and ugliness that characterised the election campaign, those incharge of security expect passions of cadre on both sides to run high next Thursday. 

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