Odisha records 48.44 pc voter turnout till 3 pm in 6 LS seats, 42 assembly segments

Bhubaneswar, May 25 (PTI) Odisha recorded 48.44 per cent voter turnout till 3 pm in six Lok Sabha constituencies and 42 assembly segments on Saturday, officials said.

Voting started at 7 am in Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Puri parliamentary constituencies along with 42 assembly segments within the jurisdiction of these Lok Sabha seats.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik walked to the Aerodrome Upper Primary School near his residence in Bhubaneswar to cast his vote. “We will form a stable government in the state,” he told reporters.

Odisha’s Chief Electoral Officer N B Dhal said voting has been peaceful so far in the 10,581 polling stations, barring some reports of EVM glitches.

Till 3 pm, 48.44 per cent of the over 94.48 lakh electorate exercised their franchise, officials said, adding that the highest 53.29 per cent voting was recorded in Keonjhar Lok Sabha seat followed by Sambalpur (52.77 pc), Dhenkanal (50.40 pc), Puri (48.71 pc), Cuttack (43.52 pc) and Bhubaneswar (42.53 pc).

Dhal said so far they have replaced 160 ballot units, 170 control units and 390 VVPATs as the EVM showed glitches during the mock polls held before actual voting started.

Official sources said an elderly woman voter who fell ill at a polling booth in Bhapur area of Nayagarh assembly segment died at a hospital, while a polling agent died at a booth under Hindol assembly segment of Dhenkanal Lok Sabha seat.

A large number of people expressed frustration over EC’s curbs on carrying mobile phones to polling booths. Some were even seen returning to their homes without casting their votes over restrictions on using mobile phones. They alleged that there was no prior information on such restriction.

Responding to it, Dhal in a statement said, “Since mobile phones are not allowed inside the booth, people can deposit it at the voter assistance booths set up outside the booth (managed by the BLOs) and subsequently collect it after voting. All sector officers have been informed accordingly.”

As many as 35,000 security personnel including 121 companies of central forces have been deployed in different booths.

Gajapati Maharaj of Puri (Puri’s titular king) Divya Singh Deb also cast his vote in Puri. Senior BJD leader V K Pandian also cast his vote by going to the polling booth in an auto-rickshaw.

Chief Secretary P K Jena, DGP Arun Kumar Sarangi and many other senior leaders including BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda also cast their votes in different booths of Bhubaneswar.

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