Athgarh by-poll peaceful barring stray incidents

Athgarh: Barring a stray incident of EVM snatching in one booth, polling in Athgarh assembly segment went off peacefully while an elderly voter died of stress.

BJD`s four-time MLA Ranendra Pratap Swain is locking horns with senior Congress leader and OPCC General Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra in the constituency which has five other candidates including BJP`s Bikram Dash.

Preliminary reports indicate that little over 70 per cent voters exercised their franchise beating the scorching heat as they lined before 198 booths of the segment throughout the day. Athgarh has 1.85 lakh voters in its electoral list of which around 80,000 are women voters.

The state chief electoral officer has however ordered re-polling in Sunthipal booth under Tigiria police station after some unidentified persons snatched away the EVM alleging that the polling here was conducted in a very unfair manner. The re-polling would be held on Tuesday.

A frantic search by police to trace the missing EVM yielded no result. Police however, has detained a person in this connection .

Contrary to sluggish polling pace in the morning hours, brisk voting took place in the afternoon and by 3 pm 47 per cent of voters had exercised their franchise. Long queues were witnessed at many rural booths even after the 5 pm deadline and sources said polling in some booths went upto 8 pm.

In Athgarh a 90-year-old woman died due to exhaustion. Nishamani Sethy of Kuleilo village fainted just just after she cast her vote. She was immediately rushed to the nearby government hospital where she was declared brought dead.

A presiding officer also fainted inside the booth in the midst of polling but recovered in hospital, officials sources said. Counting of the votes in the segment is scheduled on Wednesday.