Odisha Elections 2024: 48.44% Voter Turnout By 3 PM In 3rd Phase Amid Stray Violence, EVM Glitches

Bhubaneswar: An estimated 48.44 per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise by 3 pm in the third round of polling, which was marred by stray incidents of violence in Odisha on Saturday.

Polling, which began at 7 am in six Lok Sabha seats of Puri, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Keonjhar and Sambalpur, and 42 Assembly segments under these Parliamentary constituencies in the third round, is underway.

Sources in the Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) office said that around 48.44 per cent of the voters had exercised their franchise by 3 pm.

While Keonjhar recorded highest turnout of 53.29 per cent polling, Sambalpur clocked 52.77 per cent, Dhenkanal 50.40 per cent, Cuttack 43.52 per cent, Puri 48.71 per cent, and Bhubaneswar 42.53 per cent by 11 am during polling, the sources said.

Notably, the voter turnout stood at 35.69% by 1 pm. Sambalpur had recorded the highest voter turnout of 38.13% by 1 pm. However, poor turnout of voters was recorded in Bhubaneswar Parliamentary Constituency,

In two Assembly constituencies of Sambalpur, voting is scheduled to end at 4 pm and 5 pm. However, in the rest of the constituencies voting will end at 6 pm.

Polling in the third phase was marred by sporadic violence in several places. According to sources, a polling booth at Athagarh in Cuttack district witnessed violence during polling. At least four people sustained injuries in a clash between two rival groups at a booth at Radhagobindapur under the Athagarh assembly constituency.

The two groups indulged in a scuffle during BJD leader Ranendra Pratap Swain’s visit to the booth to cast his vote.

Sources said, the two groups were engaged in a verbal duel first and later attacked each other with chairs and even exchanged blows in the presence of Swain.

Following the incident, the BJD leader had to be escorted by police after he exercised his franchise.

The matter was resolved following the police intervention. Athagarh police and sub-divisional police officer brought the situation under control.

A similar incident was reported from a polling booth in Pipili under Puri Lok Sabha constituency.
Tension ran high at Brahmagiri booth number 127 over EVM malfunction. BJP MLA candidate Upasana Mohapatra accused the presiding officer of misbehaving with the voters.

Delay in the commencement of polling due to EVM glitches at various polling booths in Odisha also led to minor incidents and tension in several areas..

Polling was delayed at a few booths in some places, including Puri, Cuttack, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal and Bhubaneswar, due to glitches in EVMs. Following replacement of the faulty EVMs, polling has stabilised everywhere, Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Nikunja Bihari Dhal said.

While 116 ballot units were replaced, 125 control units and 56 VVPAT units were also changed, he said, adding that voting is in progress in a smooth and peaceful manner barring some stray incidents.

There were reports about alleged booth capturing at a polling booth of Sarupat Primary School in Ghasipura under Keonjhaar district. The office of the CEO, however, dismissed the allegation and said that some people who had gathered outside the polling station were removed from the vicinity. “The police personnel deployed have been keeping a close watch to prevent any such incident,” it said.

A total of 383 MLA candidates including 339 male, 44 female candidates and 64 MP aspirants including 55 male candidates, 9 female candidates are in the fray.

Voting is underway in 10,551 polling stations, including about 200 model polling booths. Over 2,000 polling stations have been identified as critical and special security arrangements have been made to ensure peaceful polling in these places.

Altogether 1,500 polling stations are managed by all women polling personnel and another 30 by PWD polling personnel, sources said, adding that over 70,000 polling staff have been deployed for election management.

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