Bhubaneswar, April 10 IANS | 8 months ago

Braving intense heat and defying extremist threats, about 67 percent of the electorate Thursday cast their ballot in simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assembly in Odisha, officials said.

Polling was held for 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats.

State chief electoral officer Mona Sharma said voting was still under way in some places due to problems in the electronic voting machines and the accurate voting percentage would be known only after compilation of all the data.

"Polls were mostly peaceful everywhere. We did not have any violence. Very good participation of young and elderly. Enthusiasm of people was very encouraging," Sharma told reporters here.

"We only had a few cases of EVMs being snatched from polling centres," she said.

Suspected Maoists set fire to a truck carrying EVMs in Mathili area of Malkangiri district Wednesday night. As a result, voting could not take place at four polling stations there, police said.

Some rebels also snatched an EVM from Polasari booth in the same area while the polling party was returning, while EVMs from three booths in Jodaamba area were also damaged by suspected rebels.

In Koraput district, an EVM was snatched from a booth in Pujaripat village, Inspector General of Police (South Western Range) Yaswant Jethwa told IANS.

Over 13 million people were eligible to cast their votes in the first phase of Lok Sabha election in the state. Polling for the remaining 11 Lok Sabha and 77 assembly seats would be held in the second phase April 17.

There are a total of 28,880,850 voters in the state.

Long queues were seen at many polling centres even before voting started at 7 a.m.

Security was tight and paramilitary personnel and police were deployed in vulnerable areas to ensure trouble-free polling.

Defying a boycott call by Maoists and braving scorching heat, people came out to exercise their franchise in the southern districts of Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Kandhamal.

"People exercised their franchise in large numbers defying Maoist propaganda. High turnout of 50 to 60 percent has been reported in Maoist-hit areas," Jethwa said.

Prominent candidates in the first phase whose fate has been sealed in the EVMs are Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and two former chief ministers and senior Congress leaders Giridhar Gomang and Hemananda Biswal.

State Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patro, former union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jual Oram, state BJP president K.V. Singh Deo and Congress leader Narasingh Mishra are also in the fray.

While polling time was 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Maoist-affected areas, it was till 6 p.m. in other places.

In the 2009 election, 65.3 percent of the electorate had exercised their franchise.

(Posted on 10-04-2014)

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