JHARSUGUDA/BHUBANESWAR, May 10 (PTI): A total 68.12 per cent of the 2.21 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 5 pm on Wednesday in the Jharsuguda assembly seat by-election in Odisha which was held peacefully, state chief electoral officer Nikunja Bihari Dhal said.
The polling percentage is, however, set to increase as about 3500 voters were seen waiting in the queues in some urban polling stations and voting continued beyond 6 pm, he said.
Dhal said of the 2,21 lakh voters, 1.51 lakh people have already exercised their franchise by 5 pm in the all the 253 polling stations and the final vote percentage is likely to be similar to the 2019 Assembly election when the turnout was 75.62 per cent.
“Interestingly, this time more women have cast their votes than men. While the number of women voters was 77,020, the number of male voters was 74,008. Only seven third gender people have cast their votes,” the CEO said.
There was enthusiasm among first time voters and also among the elderly and people with disabilities to exercise their franchise.
Dhal thanked the people for coming out of their homes to cast their votes despite the heat wave conditions in Jharsuguda, where 42 degrees celsius was recorded at 3 pm.
VVPAT glitch and other technical issues were reported but did not affect voting as those were solved immediately.
There was also no allegation of violation of the model code of conduct and voting was peaceful, he added.
The by-election is significant in that it is the last poll before the 2024 general election.
More than 1,000 officials and a huge police contingent along with seven companies of central paramilitary were deployed for the by-election, an official said.
Collector-cum-district election officer Aboli Sunil Naravane said this was the first time that webcasting was done in all 253 polling stations.
The by-election was necessitated following the murder of sitting MLA and the then health minister Naba Kishore Das on January 29, 2023.
Though nine candidates are in the fray in the bypoll, the contest is mainly between the BJD, BJP and the Congress.
The BJD has fielded Das’s daughter Deepali, while the BJP has nominated Tankadhar Tripathy. The Congress has fielded Tarun Pandey, the son of late MLA Biren Pandey. All three candidates are debutant contestants.
Votes will be counted on May 13.