Bhubaneswar: The third phase of the elections in Odisha commenced as 6 Lok Sabha and 42 Assembly constituencies went to polls today.
Polling is being held at 10,464 booths for Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Puri and Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seats and 42 Assembly segments.
A total of 92.56 lakh voters will decide the fate of 61 (55 male & 6 female) Lok Sabha and 356 (318 male, 37 female and one third gender) Assembly candidates.
Out of the total voters, 47.99 lakh are male, 44.56 lakh female while 1,163 belong to the ‘third gender’ category.
In the third phase, an interesting battle will be witnessed in Bhubaneswar where former IAS officer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Aparajita Sarangi will lock horns with former Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik, who is contesting on a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ticket.
The ruling BJD has this time dropped five-time sitting MP from Bhubaneswar Prasanna Patsani. In 2014, Patsani had defeated Prithviraj Harichandan of the BJP by 1,89,477 votes.
In Cuttack, former Odisha Director General of Police (DGP) Prakash Mishra, who is contesting on a BJP ticket, will take on BJD’s five-time sitting MP Bhartruhari Mahtab. Former state Finance Minister Panchanan Kanungo is contesting from the seat as the Congress candidate.
In 2014, Mahtab had secured 5,26,085 votes (53.75 per cent) to pip Congress candidate Aparajita Mohanty, who had secured 2,19,323 votes (22.41 per cent).
In Sambalpur, BJD candidate and former state Works Department Secretary Nalinikanta Pradhan will take on BJP’s Nitesh Ganga Deb and Congress’ Sarat Patnaik.
The ruling BJD has denied ticket to its sitting Sambalpur MP Nagendra Kumar Pradhan, who in 2014 defeated Suresh Pujari of the BJP by 30,576 votes.
Meanwhile, Puri will witness a triangular fight between spokespersons of three major political parties, as two-time sitting MP and BJD spokesman Pinaki Mishra will cross swords with BJP’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra and state Congress media cell Chairman Satya Prakash Nayak.
In 2014, Misha had secured 5,23,161 votes (50.33 per cent) while Congress candidate Sucharita Mohanty finished a distant second with 2,59,800 votes (25 percent).
In Dhenkanal, the BJD has fielded sitting Pallahara MLA Mahesh Sahoo against former BJP Rajya Sabha MP Rudra Narayan Pani. Former Union Minister and ex-Pradesh Congress Committee President K.P. Singhdeo is the other main candidate in the fray.
BJD’s Tathagata Satpathy had defeated Pani by a margin of 1,37,340 votes in 2014. Satpathy, a four-time MP, quit active politics in March this year.
The BJD has fielded young technocrat Chandrani Murmu for the ST-reserved Keonjhar Lok Sabha seat by dropping sitting MP Sakuntala Laguri.
BJP candidate Anant Nayak, who unsuccessfully contested the 2014 polls, has been repeated this time to take on Murmu and Congress candidate Mohan Hembram. In 2014, Nayak lost to Laguri by 1,57,317 votes.
Among the Assembly constituencies, several Ministers including Maheswar Mohanty (Puri), Badri Narayan Patra (Ghasipura), Prafulla Mallick (Kamakhyanagar), Nrusingh Charan Sahu (Parjang) and Ashok Chandra Panda (Ekamra-Bhubaneswar) are contesting in the third phase.