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CEC team tours Visakha-I Assembly segment

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Visakhapatnam, Feb 24 (UNI) The Election Commission's two-member team, probing alleged violation of model code of conduct in the February 19 Visakhapatnam-I Assembly by-election, went around the constituency today meeting the voters and heard the versions of candidates from different political parties, individuals and organisations here.

The CEC deputed the team consisting of Secretary Tapas Kumar and Legal Advisor S K Mandiratta to probe complaints of malpractices like distribution of money and liquor to voters, by the political parties.

The Commission had postponed counting from February 22 to a future date till further orders were issued, pending a full-fledged enquiry into the complaints.

The team went around the teeming One Town area in the old city, where most of the Assembly segment falls, interacted with a cross section of people and inquired about malpractices. While some people said they had received money from both Congress and the Telugu Desam, the main contenders for the seat, most said they were not paid money. The team visited a textile showroom of a reputed company whose owner was arrested along with a large amount of currency, for allegedly distributing money to fishermen belonging to the constituency.

They also visited King George Hospital, where Parawada MLA and District Congress President Gandi Babji was hospitalised after he complained of chest pain on February 20 and questioned him.

The fierce fight between the two rival parties took an ugly turn when the legislator had allegedly brandished a revolver at Telugu Desam workers near a polling station on election day. The TDP alleged that he had got himself admitted to hospital to evade arrest.

In a brief chat with UNI outside the hospital, Mr Kumar said the team would compile and analyse they information collected today and prepare the report to submit to the CEC.

Earlier, deposing before the team, TDP candidate S A Rahman said he had produced 'evidence' on misuse of official machinery by the Congress and sought justice. Congress candidate D Srinivas told the team his party had not violated the code of conduct, while the BJP's Kasi Viswanadha Raju and NCP candidate Natti Kumar demanded a repoll. Chetty Koreswara Rao (BSP) urged the CEC to disqualify candidates belonging to the TDP, Congress and BJP for indulging in malpractices.

The team also heard the views of nine independent candidates.

UNI RS AA MP KN2109

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