Odisha on Thursday recorded a high turnout of 67% at the end of the first phase of polling for 10 Lok Sabha constituencies and 70 assembly seats. The poll was largely peaceful barring snatching of some electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Maoist affected areas in southern parts of the state.
Highest polling of 69% was recorded in Angul district, while Maoist affected Malkangiri district registered the lowest of 44%.
The second and last phase of polling for 11 Lok Sabha constituencies and 77 assembly seats will be held on April 17.
“The figures might change after we receive a detailed report as polling continued even after stipulated time in many areas,” Odisha chief electoral officer Mona Sharma said.
In many areas, polling got delayed due as some EVMs developed technical snags.
Sharma said Maoists snatched 10 EVMs – eight in Malkangir and two in Koraput – and her office would write to the Election Commission for re-poll in those places after they received a detailed report in that regard.
In Malkangiri, Maoists allegedly forcibly took four EVMs away on Wednesday night from four polling booths, while they looted another four EVMs after the elections while the poll party was returning to the district headquarters.
In Koraput, Maoists looted two EVMs, one during the polling and another after it. “People however defied Maoist threat and came out in large number to vote in these areas,” south-west range inspector general of police Yaswant Jethwa said.
The first phase of polling comprised over 1.36 crore voters. A total of 1,26,066 polling personnel were deployed to conduct the poll and 235 companies of police personnel were pressed into service to ensure free and fair polling.
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Polling is scheduled ended at 4 pm in Maoist areas and 6 pm in other areas.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and two former chief ministers Hemananda Biswal and Giridhar Gamang were among those in the fray for the first phase. Patnaik is seeking re-election from Hinjilicut assembly seat in Ganjam district, while Biswal and Gamang are contesting Sundergarh and Koraput Lok Sabha constituencies respectively.
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