The final phase of General Elections in Odisha saw violent clashes and booth rigging in many Assembly segments. Glitches in EVMs and VVPATs also delayed voting hours in many booths across the Kendrapara, Jagastinghpur, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Balasore and Bhadrak Lok Sabha constituencies and 41 Assembly segments under them.
65 pc polling in booths under Cuttack district
Even as enthusiastic voters turned out in large numbers to exercise their franchise during the fourth phase of General Elections, the process was marred by EVM snags and violence in three Assembly segments of Cuttack district.Braving scorching heat, voters in large numbers exercised their franchise in Salepur, Mahanga Assembly segments of Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency and Niali Assembly segment of Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency.“The average turnout for General Elections at 826 polling stations across the district is 65 pc and it may exceed by another three to four pc as final reports come in”, said Deputy Collector (Election) Ranjita Sahu.
Violence and EVM and VVPAT glitches delayed polling in over 25 booths. There was clash between BJD and BJP workers in booth no 242 at Ratilo under Salepur Assembly segment over allegations of some workers influencing voters. Two BJP workers suffered injuries after being allegedly attacked by BJD workers and an FIR has been filed in Kissan Nagar police station in this regard. Polling was disrupted for more than three hours in booth 135 at Patrakana under Niali Assembly segment following a scuffle between BJP and BJP poll agents. The BJP agent Ramesh Chandra Sahu and his brother Ramesh Sahu, who were injured in the attack, have lodged complaints against BJD agent and some workers.
Similarly, in booth 210 at Sukarpada UGME School under Mahanga Assembly segment, a BJD-backed Panchayat Samiti member and his supporters allegedly attacked BJP workers and also manhandled journalists of a news channel during BJP Kendrapara Lok Sabha candidate Baijayant Panda’s visit to the booth.
In another incident, two Government officials who had come to vote after cancellation of their poll duty were deprived of casting their vote in booths 204 and 205 at Raisunguda under Salepur Assembly segment. The polling officers at the booths informed them that their votes have already been cast through postal ballots. “Who cast our vote?” questioned 50-year-old voter Prabhakar Pradhan of Raisunguda, who works as a fourth grade employee in Sukleswar Girls High School. The officers urged the Election Commission to probe into the matter.
Booth rigging, violence in Kendrapara, Jajpur
Violence marred polling in Kendrapara. Tension ran high in a polling booth at Singiri village under Aul Assembly when some miscreants indulged in booth rigging. In Firikidandi village under Rajnagar Assembly seat, supporters of Congress and BJD clashed with each other. Police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.
Alleging rigging, the Congress candidate Debendra Sharma from Aul Assembly seat demanded re-polling in nine booths under the segment. He alleged that the Congress workers were thrown out of the booth by BJD supporters and the latter then cast multiple votes. Sharma urged the Chief Election Officer to conduct re-polling in these booths.
There was 65 pc voters turnout in the district till 6 pm. Voting continued in some booth past 8 pm, said Sanjay Mishra, Sub-Collector of Kendrapara.
In Jajpur, polling was marred by stray incidents of violence at different places while the Collector suspended two polling officials for neglecting their duty. According to police reports, BJP workers allegedly broke an EVM in Chormuhan under Dharmasala segment while EVM did not function in two more places. A BJP member Gobinda Sethi was attacked allegedly by ruling party supporters when he protested irregularities in voting in the booth. A local samiti member has been detained for ransacking the EVM.
Violence was reported in Sukinda seat where irate Congressmen allegedly attacked local sarpanch. In the evening, the BJD candidate from Korei segment was attacked by unknown miscreants. A police case has been registered. The district reported 66 pc polling by 6 pm.Collector suspended presiding officer of a booth in Binjharpur, Baikunthanath Mallick for supporting ruling party candidates during polling. A polling officer in Sukinda booth, J Prusty was also suspended for asking people to vote for BJD candidates.
Gruelling wait under the sun
Technical snags in EVMs and the sweltering heat made polling a difficult exercise for voters in Jagatsinghpur. In the absence of shade in many booths, voters had to wait outside the polling booths under the scorching sun to cast their votes.
In booth no 135 under Balikuda-Erasama Assembly constituency, people had to wait for an hour to vote as the EVMs malfunctioned. EVM snags were also reported in booth 61 in Tarapur village under Tirtol Assembly segment, booths 118 and 119 in Rasulpur School under Jagatsinghpur segment. In many other booths, voters had to return disappointed as they could not cast vote due to delay in voting due to glitches in EVMs and heatwave. The VVPAT machine at pink booth no 71 at SK Academy malfunctioned during the polling process. A voter Sk Kareem of Lalsahi said he had to wait from 9 am to 11 am at the booth to exercise his franchise but he could not do so as polling officials delayed repairing of the VVPAT. Many elderly persons who were waiting outside the pink booth were affected by the delay.
Presiding officer of the booth Sanjukta Lenka, however, refuted the allegation and said voters were asked to sit in the rest room and water was provided to them while the VVPAT was being repaired. She said there was no paper roll in the machine which is why it malfunctioned.Due to the heat wave, many voters turned up at booths in the morning and evening. The presiding officer of booth 206 under Jagatsinghpur Assembly segment fell unconscious due to heat exhaustion.
Voting delayed by 2 hours
Polling in Kakatpur and Nimapara Assembly segments under the Jagatsinghpur Parliamentary constituency was peaceful except EVM glitches that slowed down the process.In Nimapara, voters in a booth alleged that the polling officials were promoting a political party.
In Kakatpur segment, 34 EVMs did not function and voting was delayed by over two hours. Voting continued till late in the evening. There was a rise in the number of women voters this time. Returning officer for both the constituencies informed that by 6 pm, Nimapara had registered 66 pc polling while it was 64.37 pc in Kakatpur.
Elections to Mayurbhanj Parliamentary constituency and seven of its Assembly segments passed off peacefully. More than 66 pc voter turnout was reported in the district. The Bhadrak Parliamentary constituency and Assembly segments under it recorded voting percentage of 71 pc. Due to defective EVMs, polling was delayed in 28 booths including 13 under Bhadrak Assembly segment, 13 in Dhamnagar and one each in Bhandaripokhari and Chandabali.
Violence, EVM and VVPAT glitches delayed polling in over 25 booths in Cuttack district. There was clash between BJD and BJP workers in booth no 242 at Ratilo under Salepur Assembly segment over allegations of some workers influencing voters.
Tension ran high in a polling booth at Singiri village under Aul Assembly when some miscreants indulged in booth rigging. In Firikidandi village under Rajnagar Assembly seat, supporters of Congress and BJD clashed with each other.
BJP members allegedly ransacked an EVM in Chormuhan under Dharmasala segment while EVM did not function in two more places in Jajpur district.
Violence was reported in Sukinda seat where irate Congressmen allegedly attacked a woman local sarpanch.