First phase Odisha elections ends peacefully with 68 percent polling

Bhubaneswar: With the fate of the contestants being sealed in the electronic voting machines, the first phase polling ended peacefully without any violent incident.

During the first of the four-phase election, more than 68 percent polling was recorded till 6 pm, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Surendra Kumar said, adding the percentage could increase.

“We have no reports of untoward incident across the state. We had ensured security arrangements at sensitive locations and Maoist-affected areas with deployment of central armed forces and state armed forces. It passed off peacefully. Now, the challenge is to transfer the EVMs securely to the strong rooms along with the safe return of polling parties,” DGP in-charge Bijay Kumar Sharma said.

According to reports, around 15 polling booths wore a deserted look as none turned up to cast their votes. This was reported from Maoist-infested Malkangiri district. The members of the outlawed group had put up posters urging voters to boycott polls. It is presumed that the voters, predominantly tribals, preferred to stay indoors fearing violence.

“Polling passed off peacefully across the state. Reports of poll boycott over various reasons came to the notice of Election Commission,” the Chief Electoral Officer Surendra said.

The election conducting body went digital with webcast at 730 booths. For convenience of differently-abled voters, wheelchair arrangements were made at 95 percent polling stations. Besides, as many as 8877 vehicles equipped with GPS monitoring system were engaged to keep a track of activities at the polling centres.

At the start of the polling, there were reports of disruption in voting owing to technical glitch. However, the election process was put on track within one hour. Due to the snag, 169 VVPAT machines underwent replacement so as to enable voters to exercise their franchise.

Also Read: Odisha polls: Glitch in EVMs delays voting at several booths

This year, as many as 7233 polling booths were set up across the state for the first phase.

In the first leg, four Lok Sabha and 28 assembly constituencies went to polls today.

While the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is confident to survive the anti-incumbency threat, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is upbeat to dethrone the Naveen Patnaik government which is at helm since 19 years.

Also Read: Odisha Elections 2019: Voters boycott polls in several places. Here’s why

The four parliamentary segments are in for a tough triangular fight. In Kalahandi, former BJD minister Pushpendra Singh Deo, BJP state unit chief Basanta Kumar Panda and former Union minister Bhakta Charan Das (Congress) are in fray. In Nabarangpur, the candidates of the major political parties – Pradeep Majhi (Congress), Balabhadra Majhi (BJP) and Ramesh Majhi – are pitted against each other.

Southern Odisha parliament segment Berhampur is poised for a tough battle as BJP leader Bhrugu Baxipatra will put up a fight against former Union Minister Chandra Sekhar Sahu of BJD.

Similarly, Koraput also saw an interesting fight between former BJD MLA Jhinna Hikaka’s wife Kausalya Hikaka, Jayaram Pangi (BJP) and Saptagiri Ulaka (Congress).

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