Bhubaneswar, Apr 10 UNI | 4 months ago

The first phase of polling to ten Lok Sabha seats and 70 Assembly constituencies in Odisha today passed off peacefully barring some incidents of snatching of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs).

Odisha Chief Electoral Officer Mona Sharma told newspersons here that as per the tentative reports received an estimated 67 per cent of the total 1.39 crore voters have exercised their franchise to elect candidates of their choice.

As per the reports Angul reported the highest 73 per cent polling followed by Jharsuguda 72 per cent and Baragarh 69 per cent.

The Maoist infested Malkangiri District reported the lowest polling of 48.4 per cent.

But Ms Sharma the figures were not final and the voting was still going on in some places.

The polling was conducted peacefully and there was no reports of any attack any where on poll officials.

She said there was great enthusiasm among the people to vote and despite the scorching heat the voters were standing on que to caste their ballot.

Ms Sharma said the Commission had not received any specific complaints of rigging from any one.

There were reports of snatching of eight EVMs in Malkangiri and two in Koraput. Out of the eight EVMs snatched in Malkangiri four EVMs were snatched yesterday before the polling.

The Commission would recommend for re-polling after examining these cases,she said.

The CEO said two persons--a 70 year old lady and a 62 year old man died during the polling. While the lady died in Bolangir Assembly Constituency about 200 meters away from the polling booth, the man died in Patnagarha Assembly Constituency while being taken to hospital in an ambulance. The cause of the deaths was not yet known.

A report from Koraput said polling was stopped from midway today after the Armed Maoists looted the Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) from the booth No 192 in Pujaripat village under Kotpad Assembly constituency today.

Police said around 20 to 30 armed Maoists landed in the village at 1200 hrs, overpowered the polling staff, snatched their mobile phones and left the place after looting the EVMs.

The voters standing on que to caste their vote left the polling both in panic.The polling was stopped soon after the incident.About 375 people had by then cast their ballots.

The authorities have deployed as many as 235 companies of forces both state and central spread over 19 of the 30 districts in state for the smooth conduct of the elections in view of the Naxal threat.

Three helicopters were also pressed into service to keep a strong vigil on the movement of the Maoists in the sensitive areas.

The Authorities have identified 2057 of the total 17266 polling booths as sensitive and polling was held between 0700 hours to 1600 hours in 54 Maoist hit Assembly constituencies today.

The ten Parliamentary Constituencies for which the polling is being held today are--Baragarh,Sundergarha,Sambalpur, Bolangir, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal, Aska, Berhampur and Koraput.

Today's polling will decide the electoral fortune of 98 Lok sabha candidates and 673 Assembly candidates. Prominent among those included Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik BJP state President K V Singdeo, Odisha Assembly Speaker P K Amat, Former Chief Ministers Girishar Gamango and Hemananda Biswal, four former Union Ministers such as Juel Oram and Dillip Ray (BJP), Chandar Sekhar Sahu and Bhakta Das( Congress).

This apart nine council of Ministers of Naveen Patnaik government will also try their luck in the hustings besides several former Ministers and over 40 sitting MLAs.

(Posted on 10-04-2014)