Bhubaneswar, Apr 10 : The fate of 217 candidates would be sealed as Odisha goes for simultaneous polls to four Lok Sabha and 28 Assembly constituencies in the first phase on Thursday. While a total 26 candidates are vying for the Lok Sabha seats,191 candidates are in the fray for the Assembly seats. All the four Lok Sabha and 28 Assembly constituencies will witness a multi corner contest. But the battle for ballots will be mostly confined to the three major political parties- the ruling BJD, the Opposition Congress and the BJP.
About 60, 03,707 voters spread over 7,233 booths, mostly in south Odisha will exercise their franchise to decide the electoral fortunes of 217 candidates. Most of the constituencies in the first phase being naxalite infested the authority had deployed 29 platoons of central para military forces besides the BSF for smooth conduct of the elections. The naxalites however have given a call for poll boycott. Considering the sensitiveness of several pooling booths, at least 2,375 booths are treated as critical, the election commission has fixed the polling time from 0700 hours to 1600 hours.
The authority has decided to put 486 booths under web casting and installed CCTV in 215 booths, deployed micro observers in 408 booths. Sources said, at least 30 polling booths in the first phase are completely managed by all women polling personnel. VVPAT will be used in all the polling stations for the first time. Prominent among those in the fray are former Railway Minister Bhakta Charan Das from Congress for Kalahandi Lok Sabha seat who will face a tough fight from Odisha BJP president Basant Kumar Panda. The Nabarangpur Lok sabha seat will witness a triangular contest among Odisha SC/ST development Minister Ramesh Chandra Majhi ( BJD), Odisha Congress working president Pradeep Majhi and sitting BJD MP Balabhadra Majhi who had quit the party and contesting the election as BJP candidate.
The other prominent candidate whose fate would be sealed tomorrow is former Union Minister Chandra Sekhar Sahu who had in the past quit the Congress and joined BJD and seeking election from Berhampur Lok sabha seat as BJD candidate. Mr Sahu had won the seat once in 2004 Lok Sabha election and is pitted against BJP Odisha unit general secretary Bhrugu Bauxipatra. Two Odisha ministers such as Food supplies and Consumer Affairs S N Patro (Digpahandi assembly seat) and Planning, skill development and Technical education Minister Usha Devi (Chikiti assembly seat) will also try their luck in the wake a multi cornered contest. (UNI)