"Polling is in progress in a peaceful and smooth manner. There has been no untoward incident anywhere, though glitches in EVMs delayed the beginning of voting in some places. The snags were immediately corrected," said an official.
Around 15 per cent voting was recorded in the first three hours as polling was underway in four Lok Sabha seats and 28 assembly constituencies in the first phase of polls in Odisha on Thursday. Long queues of voters were seen at polling stations in Koraput, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur and Berhampur Lok Sabha constituencies and 28 assembly segments.
“Polling is in progress in a peaceful and smooth manner. There has been no untoward incident anywhere, though glitches in EVMs delayed the beginning of voting in some places. The snags were immediately corrected,” said an official. Technical snags in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) caused a delay in the start of polling in around 50 booths in several places under Koraput, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Berhampur constituencies, he said. Snags in EVMs were also reported from Malkangiri and Chitrakonda areas under Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat, Lamptaput and Jeypore in Koraput and Gopalpur, Digapahandi and Berhampur, he said.
Several voters returned from a booth at Godibali under Kashipur block of Rayagada district following delay in voting due to technical glitches in EVM, sources said. Prominent among the early voters were former Union minister Chandra Sekhar Sahu who is the BJD candidate from Berhampur Lok Sabha seat and BJP Odisha unit president Basant Panda, who is in the fray for Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat. While Sahu cast his vote at a booth in Berhampur city, Panda exercised his franchise in Nuapada. Over 60 lakh voters, including more than 30 lakh women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the first phase of polls.
Women outnumber men in these constituencies as they form 30,30,222 of an estimated 60,03,707 electorate, while 29,72,925 are male. As many as 560 voters belong to the third gender. Elaborate security arrangements have been made to ensure smooth polling and foil any attempt to disrupt the process in Maoist-affected areas.
Security has been tightened as Maoists have given a call for poll boycott, police said. While polling will be held in most of the booths till 6 pm, in several naxal-hit areas it will close at 4 pm and in some other segments at 5 pm. The first phase of polls will decide the fate of a total of 217 candidates. There are 26 hopefuls in fray, including two women, in four Lok Sabha constituencies, and 191 candidates, 16 of them women, in 28 assembly seats.
Lok Sabha and assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases. Polling for next three phases will be held on April 18, 23 and 29. There are 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly seats in the state.