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18 pc polling recorded in Odisha till 11 am

Polling officials leave after collecting EVMs and other election material for the third phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, at a distribution centre, in Bhubaneswar.

An estimated 18 per cent of 92.56 lakh voters exercised their franchise till 11 am Tuesday in six Lok Sabha and 42 assembly constituencies of Odisha, an election official said.

Long queues of voters were seen outside the polling stations, even before the process commenced at 7 am, he said.

All arrangements have been made to ensure hassle-free polling in the six Lok Sabha constituencies - Puri, Sambalpur, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal -- and the 42 assembly seats that come under them, the poll official said.

"Voting is underway in a peaceful and smooth manner. There has been no untoward incident anywhere, though glitches in EVMs delayed the process in around 60 booths. The snags have been rectified," he added.

The electoral fortunes of 417 candidates, including BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra and Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik, will be decided in the third phase of the staggered elections.

Six women were among the 61 hopefuls in the Lok Sabha constituencies. In the assembly segments, 37 of the 356 nominees are women.

Of the 92.56 lakh electorate, 44,56,729 are women and 1,163 belong to the third gender.

Around 60,000 polling personnel have been engaged to conduct the polls in 10,464 booths of the state, where sporadic violence on Sunday left several injured, including an Election Commission (EC) magistrate and a BJD candidate.

A legislator of the ruling BJD has been arrested on the charge of attacking the EC magistrate.

Among the early voters on Tuesday was Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik, who exercised his franchise in a Bhubaneswar booth.

Talking to reporters after exercising his franchise, Patnaik exuded confidence that his party will post an impressive show in the elections.

Other than Sambit Patra and Niranjan Patnaik, prominent candidates in the fray for the third phase include sitting BJD MPs Bhartruhari Mahtab and Pinaki Mishra, former Mumbai police commissioner and ruling party candidate Arup Patnaik and BJP's Aparajita Sarangi.

Lok Sabha and assembly elections are being held simultaneously in Odisha in four phases.

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