Bhubaneswar: The first of the two-phase simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly election in Odisha will be held on Thursday to elect representatives from 10 Parliamentary and 70 Assembly constituencies.
The constituencies are spread over in the western and southern areas of Odisha.
There are 98 candidates, including former Congress chief ministers Giridhar Gamang and Hemanand Biswal, former Union ministers Jual Oram (BJP) and Bhakta Charan Das (Congress) in the fray from Bargarh, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Balangir, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal, Aska, Berhampur and Kalahandi parliamentary constituencies.
Hockey star and former Indian team captain Dilip Tirkey is contesting the election as a BJD candidate from Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat, pitted against Hemanand Biswal of Congress and BJP`s Jual Oram.
Prominent Odia cinestar Siddhant Mohapatra is a BJD candidate from Berhampur Lok Sabha seat.
There are 688 aspirants for the 70 Assembly seats. Prominent among them is Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who is seeking re-election from Hinjili constituency in Ganjam district.
An electorate of 1.35 lakh voters is eligible to exercise their franchise on April 10.
Tight security has been arranged in several constituencies in the Maoist belt where the extremists have given a call for poll boycott.
More than 50 of the 70 Assembly segments which goes to the polls tomorrow are in Maoist-affected areas.
The EC has engaged 156 companies of Central Para Military Force (CPMF) besides about 27,000 personnel of the state police to ensure free and fair elections.
In vulnerable polling stations, the police have decided to operate in cluster manner instead of dumping more forces at one place.
Taking into consideration local situation, the timing of polling has been reduced by two hours in 56 Assembly segments.
While the polling time will be 7 AM to 4 PM in 56 Assembly segments, for 16 other segments it will be 7 AM to 6 PM.
Polling in the remaining 11 Lok Sabha and 77 Assembly constituencies in the state is scheduled to be held on April 17.