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Congress-backed candidate wins

ARAKU VALLEY (Vizag. Dt.): The Congress party supported candidate Gonda Lakshmi won the bye-election for sarpanch of Padmapuram major panchayat here on Saturday.

She defeated her nearest rival TDP-supported Madala Pushpa by 24 votes.

The direct election of sarpanch was necessitated following death of former sarpanch Janaki.

The incumbent will have an eight-month term.

The polling began at 7 a.m. and went on peacefully till 1 p.m.

While Ms. Lakshmi got 711 votes, Ms. Pushpa got 690 and the third candidate Sagar Bhavani garnered 521 votes and 63 votes were declared invalid. The sarpanch seat has been reserved for women.

The panchayat has 3,242 voters and comprises 43 villages in and around Araku Valley. Matsyaraju, the former Sarpanch, though had his voter card and registered vote, could not cast his vote at the Government Primary School polling booth as his name was not found.

Victory rally

A massive rally and meeting was organised here after the victory of Ms. Lakshmi.

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