Thousands from Hyderabad heading to Andhra for voting

Hyderabad: Buses and trains are overcrowded, while there were traffic snarls at the toll plazas, as thousands of people from Hyderabad were heading for Andhra Pradesh to cast their votes on Thursday.

Hundreds of vehicles were waiting in queues at toll plazas on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway. Chaotic scenes of traffic have been witnessed since Tuesday night.

Polling for 175-member Andhra Pradesh Assembly and all the 25 Lok Sabha constituencies in that state are scheduled on Thursday.

All the 17 Lok Sabha constituencies in Telangana are also going to the polls on the same day.

More than 20 lakh people with roots in Andhra Pradesh, and living in and around Hyderabad, are said to have votes in both the states.

Unlike in 2014, when elections were held in different phases in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, this time both the Telugu-speaking states are going to the polls in a single phase on the same day.

Some political parties had demanded simultaneous polling in both the states to prevent bogus voting.

The YSR Congress Party had told the Election Commission in February that over 20 lakh people have votes in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

About a 1.5 km-long traffic jam was seen at the Pantangi toll plaza on Wednesday in the Yadadri Bhongir district of Telangana . There were heated arguments between vehicle owners and toll staff as the commuters demanded that the process of toll collection be speeded up.

Commuters were also demanding that the authorities stop collection of toll, as was done during the Sankranti festival to allow smooth flow of traffic.

Buses and trains plying to Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Godavari districts, Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur and other destinations in Andhra Pradesh were overcrowded.

In addition to over 500 daily services operated by the Road Transport Corporation from Hyderabad to Vijayawada and other destinations in Andhra Pradesh, the authorities were running special buses to clear the rush. Private bus operators were making a killing by charging exorbitant fares.

South Central Railway was also operating special trains to Tirupati, Guntur and Visakhapatnam to meet the increased demand.

Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS), the biggest bus station in the Hyderabad and Secunderabad railway stations were teeming with commuters including private employees along with their families, techies and students.

Besides polling, the summer holidays for schools and colleges are believed to be another reason for the huge rush.

Such scenes are usually witnessed on the occasion of Sankranti, when families having roots in Andhra Pradesh head home for the harvest festival.

Some parties and candidates are said to have either arranged special vehicles to ferry voters from Hyderabad, or paying for their fare on both sides, as well as for food and other expenses.