70 per cent voter turnout recorded in Odisha in crucial third phase

Puri Lok Sabha constituency recorded the highest turnout of 73.81 per cent, while Dhenkanal stood second with voting of 73.69 per cent.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

BHUBANESWAR: Around 70 per cent voter turnout was recorded in the third phase elections for six Lok Sabha constituencies and 42 Assembly segments in the state till last update at 11.30 pm on Saturday.

Puri Lok Sabha constituency recorded the highest turnout of 73.81 per cent, while Dhenkanal stood second with voting of 73.69 per cent followed by Sambalpur at 73.31 per cent and Keonjhar at 71.93 per cent. As expected, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack reported the lowest turnout of 60.04 per cent and 65.43 per cent respectively.

The overall voter turnout in the six seats was 71.36 per cent in the 2019 general elections. The voting percentage is expected to rise further as those present at polling stations after the deadline were allowed to exercise their franchise, said chief electoral officer Nikunja Bihari Dhal.

Voting, which started at 7 am, was allegedly delayed at multiple booths owing to EVM glitches. BJP Lok Sabha candidate Sambit Patra alleged polling was delayed by two hours, in many booths of Puri town including the one where he had reached to exercise his franchise, owing to EVM snag.

“This caused serious inconvenience to voters, especially senior citizens some of whom returned without casting their votes,” alleged Patra while seeking intervention of the Election Commission of India in the matter.

Officials of Election Commission of India said a total of 201 ballot units, 214 control units and 501 VVPATS were replaced during mock polling and polling in different booths across the six constituencies to ensure smooth voting on the day.

Apart from EVM glitch, many people also alleged their names were missing from the voters’ list. Ramachandra Das, a 97-year-old man from Puri, reportedly slept inside a booth to lodge protest over his name missing from the voters’ list.

The crucial third phase also reported incidents of violence in several places. BJP candidate Prasanta Kumar Jagadev was detained for allegedly damaging an EVM at a booth in Bolagarh under Begunia Assembly seat.

The CEO said, a probe has been ordered into the incident of Chhendipada MLA Sushant Behera allegedly attacking some BJP workers in the constituency.

Four persons each from BJP and BJD were also allegedly injured in Athagarh Assembly segment following a group clash among the supporters of the two parties over passing of comments in the presence of state Agriculture Minister Ranendra Pratap Swain who had gone to cast his vote in the model polling station set up in his native Radhagovindpur gram panchayat.

Tension gripped a polling station in Brahmagiri Assembly seat of Puri over alleged EVM malfunction, prompting the district election office to issue clarification that the incident was due to a verbal argument of a voter with the presiding officer when he was asked to exit the booth through proper door to maintain discipline.

Meanwhile, three persons including a polling personnel and a polling agent also reportedly died during the polling. A polling official at Hadibandhu school booth in Cuttack was taken ill during election duty and was shifted to SCB Medical College and Hospital where he succumbed. Similarly, agent of a political party Sukadev Patnaik from Bahalunda area reportedly fell unconscious in booth no-136 in Hindol while voting was in progress at around 9.30 am. Though he was immediately rushed to the nearly hospital, he could not be saved.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, BJD organisational secretary Pranab Prakash Das, bureaucrat-turned politician Aparajita Sarangi, captain Manmath Routray, six-time MP Bhartruhari Mahtab, former corporate leader Santrupt Misra, former Mumbai police commissioner Arup Patnaik and BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra 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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