Odisha Polls: 64% Voting Till 5 PM

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Bhubaneswar: Over 64% of the over 76.93 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 5 pm in five Odisha Lok Sabha and 35 assembly seats, some of them in naxal-affected areas, in the second phase on Thursday, EC top official said.

State chief electoral officer Surendra Kumar said polling is in progress in a peaceful and smooth manner in all the constituencies, including those in naxal-affected areas.

“No untoward incident was reported from anywhere,” he said.

Polling is being held peacefully in remote areas of naxal-hit Kandhamal, where Maoists gunned down a woman election official and set ablaze three vehicles on their way to booths in separate incidents on Wednesday, the CEO said.

Additional force was deployed in the district in the aftermath of the Maoist attack to ensure smooth voting. Security was also tightened in the Naxal-affected areas of Bargarh and Bolangir in view of a poll boycott call given by the Maoists, a senior police officer said.

The poll body official said an ex-gratia of around Rs 30 lakh will be paid to the family of the slain woman official as per the guidelines of the EC in case of a personnel’s death due to Naxal or terrorist attack.

Long queues of voters were seen at the polling stations in Aska, Kandhamal, Sundergarh, Bargarh and Bolangir Lok Sabha constituencies, and the 35 assembly segments coming under these areas, as voting commenced at 7 am.

Glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were noticed in some booths and the defects were immediately resolved to pave the way for voting, he said, adding, the machines were replaced wherever necessary.

As a result voting was delayed in around 50 booths in different places, officials said.

The electoral fortunes of 279 candidates, including Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union minister Jual Oram, will be decided in the second phase of voting.

While Patnaik, also the ruling BJD chief, is in the fray from Hinjili and Bijepur assembly seats, Oram is contesting from Sundargarh Lok Sabha constituency.

Over 76.93 lakh voters will decide the fate of 279 candidates in Thursday’s polling. Out of the total electorate of 76,93,123, there are 37,47,493 women voters. At least 605 electors belong to the third gender.

Prominent among the voters were BJD Rajya Sabha member and former Odisha minister Prasanna Acharya and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, who voted in Bargarh and Sundargarh respectively where they are in the fray in the Lok Sabha polls.

Repolling is also being held in two booths in Malkangiri (ST) and Berhampur assembly constituencies, following reports of glitches in EVMs during the first phase of polling on April 11.

Meanwhile, a report from Aska Lok Sabha constituency said a 95-year-old man, identified as Natabar Behera, collapsed while standing in the queue at a booth in Kansamari village under Sanakhemundi assembly segment, police said.

The man later died, a police officer said.

Lok Sabha and assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases.