Voting begins in Orissa amidst tight security

April 16th, 2009 - 10:09 am ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, April 16 (IANS) Voting for the first phase of general and assembly elections began in Orissa Thursday amid a boycott call by Maoists and tight security measures, officials said.
Polling started at 7 a.m. in western and southern districts to elect 10 members to the Lok Sabha and 70 members to the state assembly.

A large number of voters came out of their homes to exercise their franchise in Maoist affected districts of Malkangiri, Koraput, Kandhamal and Rayagada, poll officials said.

Although few people were seen coming to the booth in the interior part of Malkangiri, considered a Maoist stronghold, poll officials said they expected the number to gradually rise.

The Maoists have called for a complete boycott of the polls.

On Wednesday, Maoists felled trees, dug up roads in Malkangiri, Koraput and Rayagada districts to create hurdles for the poll officials.

“The rebels felled trees in some areas Wednesday night but the security personals cleared them,” Deputy Inspector General of Police Sanjeev Panda told IANS.

Voting also begun peacefully in Kandhamal district, where at least 38 people were killed in communal violence last year.

Orissa will elect 147 members to the state assembly and 21 members to the Lok Sabha simultaneously on April 16 and April 23.

The fate of 72 candidates for 10 Lok Sabha seats and 569 candidates for 70 assembly seats will be decided by 12.6 million voters in the first phase.

The prominent politicians among those testing their luck in the first phase include Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik from Hinjili assembly constituency and Union minister and Congress leader Chandrasekhar Sahu from Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency.

Former chief minister Giridhar Gomang and former union minister Jual Oram are contesting from Koraput and Sundergarh Lok Sabha seats respectively.

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