An estimated 64 per cent of the 76.93 lakh voters exercised their franchise in five Lok Sabha and 35 assembly seats of Odisha in the second phase on Thursday, State chief electoral officer Surendra Kumar said. Though polling time has been over at 4 pm in the Maoist affected areas and at 6 pm in other places, many people were seen on the queue to cast their votes at 9.30 pm.
The final turnout figure will be available after completion of voting in all the places, the CEO said. He said polling was peaceful in all the constituencies including those having Maost-affected areas. No untoward incident occurred in Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat where one woman polling officer was shot dead by Maoists and set ablaze three vehicles in separate incidents on Wednesday, said DGP B K Sharma.
Kumar said ex-gratia of around Rs 30 lakh will be given to the family of the slain officer following guidelines of the EC in case of an official’s death due to Naxal or terrorist attack.
Some polling personnel in naxal hit areas did not return to Phulbani, district headquarters of Kandhamal. "The polling parties along with EVMs are in a safe place. They were prevented from undertaking journey at night," a police officer engaged in anti-Maoist operation said.
Additional force was deployed in the district in the aftermath of the Maoist attack to ensure smooth voting. Security was also tightened in the Naxal-affected areas of Bargarh and Bolangir in view of a poll boycott call given by the Maoists, a senior police officer said.
A polling party was also stuck because of a land slide in Nayagarh district. Kumar said he has recommended fresh polling in six booths - two each in Bargarh, Sundargarh and Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituencies - due to human error during replacement of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines.
Glitches in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were noticed in some booths and the defects were immediately resolved, he said.
As a result, voting was delayed in around 50 booths in different places, officials said. The electoral fortunes of 279 candidates, including Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Union minister Jual Oram, will be decided in the second phase of voting.
While Patnaik, also the ruling BJD chief, is in the fray from Hinjili and Bijepur assembly seats, Oram is contesting from Sundargarh Lok Sabha constituency.
Repolling was also being held in two booths in Malkangiri (ST) and Berhampur assembly constituencies, following reports of glitches in EVMs during the first phase of polling on April 11.
Meanwhile, a report from Aska Lok Sabha constituency said a 95-year-old man, identified as Natabar Behera, collapsed while standing in the queue at a booth in Kansamari village under Sanakhemundi assembly segment, police said.
The man later died, a police officer said. Lok Sabha and assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases.