Polling in Orissa more than 60 percent despite scorching heat (Second Lead)

April 23rd, 2009 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bhubaneswar, April 23 (IANS) The final phase of polling in Orissa Thursday witnessed an average of over 60 percent turnout and ended peacefully except for some stray incidents of violence, officials said.
“Voting was by and large peaceful across the state with over 60 percent turnout. There are a few stray incidents of violence but they are negligible,” Prabhakar Sahu, public relations officer of Orissa’s chief electoral office, told IANS.

People thronged the polling stations in large numbers despite scorching heat across most poll-bound areas.

Several places of the 11 Lok Sabha and 77 assembly constituencies where the voting took place witnessed temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius, officials said.

Some television channels reported that at least two polling officials died of sunstroke - one in Keonjhar district and another in Mayurbhanj district.

Sahu, however, did not confirm if the deaths were caused by sunstroke.

“We have received preliminary information about the death of only one polling official in Mayurbhanj district but it appears to be death due to other reasons,” Sahu said adding that the exact reason would be known only after post mortem examination.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was among the voters who exercised their franchise soon after polling began.

Patnaik walked down from his house here, Naveen Nivas, to the polling booth about 100 metres away at about 7 a.m.

The twin election is crucial for Patnaik, who has ended his alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and seeks to return to power in the state on his own.

Prominent among the BJP candidates contesting the Lok Sabha elections in the second phase are M.A. Kharabela Swain (Balasore), Ananta Nayak (Keonjhar) and Braja Kishore Tripathy (Puri).

Tripathy had resigned from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) after being denied nomination and joined the BJP.

From the Congress, former central minister Srikanta Jena is contesting from Balasore and Ranjib Biswal from Kendrapada.

Among the key BJD candidates are industrialist-turned-Rajya Sabha member Baijayant Jay Panda (Kendrapada), Tathagat Satpathy (Dhenkanal) and Pinaki Mishra (Puri).

Prominent candidates contesting the assembly elections are the BJP’s Biswa Bhusan Harichandan from Bhubaneswar, the BJD’s Damodar Rout from Paradeep and the Congress’ Saumya Ranjan Patnaik from Khandpada.

Orissa has to elect 147 members to the state assembly and 21 members to Lok Sabha. The first phase of election was held April 16 for 10 Lok Sabha seats and 70 Assembly constituencies.

The voter turnout in the first phase was over 65 percent. The total number of voters in the state is 27,160,572.

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