Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: With voting for the second phase polls in Odisha having ended at 5 PM and around 64 per cent polling was recorded, the turnout in the constituencies went to polls in this phase indicate less polling vis-a-vis the 2014 elections.

Though the figures are tentative, it is expected to touch around 71 per cent finally. The 2014 polls witnessed a turnout of around 72.5 per cent. Lesser polling rate in 2019 in the constituencies considered as swing constituencies in the State could have a far-reaching impact on the final poll outcome in the State.

The second phase polls in Odisha covered as many as five Lok Sabha constituencies and around 35 assembly segments. The tentative poll turnout revealed that around 49.23 lakh voters of a total of around 76.93 lakh voters have exercised their franchise, which will decide the fate of around 35 Lok Sabha candidates and a whopping 244 assembly candidates. The Election Commission had identified a high of over 3,700 booths as sensitive. Reports suggest around 14 villages have given a poll boycott call.

Though reports received from the ground suggest enthusiasm among voters spread across all the five LS constituencies and 35 Assembly Constituencies (AC) where people were seen waiting in serpentine queues to exercise their franchise, the tentative poll figures don't look much enthusing today. However, the fate of CM Naveen Patnaik is contesting for the first time from two assembly constituencies of Hinjili (Aska LS) and Bijepur (Bargarh LS), Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram is again in the battle for Sundergarh LS seat are sealed in the EVM machines.

Unlike 2014, Kandhamal and Bargarh LS constituencies have also witnessed a high profile fight this time as senior BJP leader Kharabela Swain is locked in a pitched battle with BJD's Achyuta Samanta  in Kandhamal, and senior BJD leader Prasanna Acharya having a keen fight with senior BJP leader Suresh Pujari. And Bolangir LS constituency is witnessed a repeat clash between Kalikesh and Sangeeta.

Voter turnout trends show a clear link between turnout and presence of high-profile candidates in the poll fray. Past poll trend analysis had also shown a clear link between turnout and the anti-incumbency at constituency level. Moreover, a majority of constituencies going to the polls in this phase are considered as the swing constituencies in the State. A high turn-out in last elections and the poll results have established the fact so.

Aska LS constituency, under which CM Naveen Patnaik's Hinjili constituency falls,  had recorded the lowest polling among all the constituencies that went to polls in 2014.  In 2009, the polling percentage in Aska was a moderate 54.55 per cent and the turnout increased to 63.62 in 2014. Similarly, Hinjili assembly constituency had recorded a turnout of around 50.39 per cent in 2009 and the poll percentage in 2014 polls was 60.57 per cent. The watch out factor here is, will the constituency record a higher turnout in 2019? But figures till 1PM are available when the constituency had polled 35 per cent votes.

The high-profile Sundergarh constituency had witnessed nearly a whopping around 9 per cent growth in turnout in 2014. Against a turnout of 61 per cent in 2009, the LS constituency witnessed 71.66 per cent in 2014. The seat was with Congress in 2009 and BJP won the seat in 2014. The turnout figures of 30 per cent till 1 PM in the constituency are available.

Similarly, in the Kandhamal LS seat, the poll turnout in 2014 was around 73.40 per cent vis-a-vis of around 66.96 per cent in 2009. The assembly segments in the constituency like Baliguda and G Udayagiri had witnessed a rise in poll turnout of around 7 per cent in 2014. The seats were with BJP in 2009 and BJD wrested them in 2014. Update turnout of 24 per cent is available only.

In the Bargarh LS constituency, the poll turnout in 2014 was nearly 76 per cent, up by 6 per cent vis-a-vis 2009.  And  the results showed a tight contest in the constituency in 2014. But the turnout figures of 34 per cent in the constituency till 1 PM is available.

Poll Factoids: Highest poll percentage in 2014 Lok Sabha among the constituencies went to polls today was Bargarh (75.82%)

*Lowest poll turnout in 2014 LS polls - Aska (63.62%)

*Highest polling in Assembly polls in 2014 - Jharsuguda (82.21%)

*Lowest polling in Assembly polls 2014 - Aska (59.34%)