Odisha records 48.44% voting percentage till 3 pm, lowest turnout in Bhubaneswar

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was seen walking up to the polling station at Aerodrome UP School in Bhubaneswar to cast his vote.
A woman voter in a wheelchair flashes her ink-marked finger after casting her vote for the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Odisha (Photo | PTI)
A woman voter in a wheelchair flashes her ink-marked finger after casting her vote for the sixth phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Odisha (Photo | PTI)

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha recorded 48.44 per cent voter turnout till 3 pm in the polling for six Lok Sabha constituencies and 42 assembly segments in the state on Saturday.

Keonjhar Lok Sabha constituency reported the highest turnout of 53.29 per cent followed by Sambalpur at 52.77 per cent, Dhenkanal at 50.40 per cent and Puri 48.71 per cent.

Bhubaneswar reported the lowest turnout of 42.53 per cent, followed by Cuttack at 43.52 per cent.

“Elections have remained peaceful by and large. The voting percentage is expected to increase further as polling will continue till 6pm,” said CEO Nikunja Bihari Dhal.

The voting exercise in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Sambalpur, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal Lok Sabha seats and 42 assembly segments under them began in the morning at 7 am, amid tight police security.

Just around 7.43 per cent of the 94.48 lakh electors had exercised their franchise till 9 am, which gradually increased to 21.72 per cent by 11 am and 35.69 per cent till 1 pm.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, 5T chairman and BJD leader VK Pandian, CEO Nikunja Bihari Dhal, Chief Secretary PK Jena, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack police commissioner Sanjeeb Panda and many other popular faces exercised their franchise in Bhubaneswar. The Chief Minister was seen walking up to the polling station at Aerodrome UP School to cast his vote.

Malfunctioning of EVMs were reported at multiple polling stations including booth no-258 in Keonjhar, booth no-122 in Nayapalli area and booth no-159 in Patrapada area of Bhubaneswar, booth no-82 in Deogarh, booth no-81 in Kalapada of Cuttack, booth no-149 in Talcher, booth no-13, 49 and 50 in Krushnaprasad of Puri and booth no-157 in Dhenkanal in the morning.

BJP Lok Sabha candidate Sambit Patra alleged that polling was delayed by two hours at many booths in Puri town, including the booth where he had reached to vote, owing to EVM glitches. “This caused serious inconvenience to voters, especially the senior citizens some of whom returned without casting their vote,” alleged Patra while seeking the intervention of the Election Commission in this matter.

Officials of the Election Commission said a total of 160 ballot units, 170 control units and 370 VVPATs were replaced in different booths across the six constituencies by 1.20pm to ensure smooth voting.

Apart from EVM glitches, violence was reported inside a polling booth under Athagarh Assembly constituency in Cuttack district with BJD and BJP workers resorting to a clash over comments made in the presence of Agriculture Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain. At least four people from both sides were reportedly injured in the clash which erupted while Swain had gone to cast his vote in the model polling station set up in his native Radhagovindpur gram panchayat.

Tension also gripped a polling station in Brahmagiri assembly seat of Puri over alleged EVM malfunctioning.

The district election office, however, clarified that the tension was due to a verbal argument between a voter and the presiding officer when he was asked to exit the booth through a proper door to maintain discipline.

A polling agent also reportedly died at booth no-136 in Hindol. The agent of a political party Sukadev Patnaik from Bahalunda area fell unconscious while voting was in progress at around 9:30 am.

Though he was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital, doctors declared him brought dead. His body was sent for autopsy to ascertain the cause of death.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and BJD organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das from Sambalpur, bureaucrat-turned politician Aparajita Sarangi and captain Manmath Routray from Bhubaneswar, former Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik and BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra from Puri and six-time MP Bhartruhari Mahtab and former corporate leader Santrupt Misra from Cuttack are among the 64 candidates trying their luck in the six Lok Sabha seats in the third phase.

Around 383 candidates are also contesting in the 42 Assembly seats in this phase.

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The New Indian Express