Odisha final phase witnesses brisk polling; Cyclone Fani threat looms over EVMs

Bhubaneswar: The fourth and final phase polling in the 2019 General Elections in Odisha has witnessed brisk polling, if one goes by the tentative poll turnout figures of 66 per cent till 5 PM.

The final count may touch around 76-77 per cent as the districts that went to poll today have high population density, unlike the tribal constituencies or hinterland constituencies that went to polls in first and second phase of polls.

Even, CEO Surendra Kumar has expressed satisfaction over the poll turnout this phase. He said, “The turnout is encouraging and we hope the final count will be more than the poll turnouts in the last three phases of polls.”

As per CEO data, Bhadrak Lok Sabha (LS) constituency has witnessed highest polling of around 68 per cent till 5 PM. While Mayurbhanj LS has recorded around 66 per cent, Jagatsinghpur and Balasore posted a turnout of around 64 per cent.

The Kendrapara LS, which has been the hottest LS seat in the 2019 polls, has seen a turnout of 65 per cent till 5 PM.

In 2014, the aggregate poll turnout was over 75 per cent. Mayurbhanj had recorded highest poll turnout of over 79.44 per cent. The poll percentage in LS constituencies of Balasore and Bhadrak were 76.84 per cent and 73.63 per cent, respectively. A poll turnout of 75.31 per cent was recorded in Jajpur. Kendrapara had witnessed 73.14 per cent poll turnout in 2014.

However, the rather free and fair poll got a jolt when EC suspended three polling officials, including two presiding officers, on charges of influencing voters in polling booths The polling officials in violation of RPA 1951 have entered the polling compartment during polling. The suspended officials were Baikunthanath Mallick, Presiding Officer, at 191 polling station Binjharpur Assembly constituency (AC), Dhirendra Tripathy, PO, at booth 135 in Binjharpur AC and Janardan Prusty, polling official, at booth 196 in Sukinda AC.

Significantly also, though the final phase of polling passed off peacefully with no report of any major untoward incident, yet the State has witnessed increased poll violence during the last two phases of polling.

Though the polling process was over, the EC is now highly concerned about the safety of polled EVMs when the threat of Cyclone Fani is looming large over Odisha.

“We have very little time at hand. Discussions were held with EC and district collectors so as to ensure fool-proof safety and security of polled EVMs. All section officers have been asked to requisition polythene sheets. Necessary measures were initiated to maintain the safety of EVMs in strong rooms,” informed Kumar and added that our priority now is ensuring safety of polled EVMs and ensuring transparency in the process.