PURI: 1,137 candidates are in the fray from 147 assembly seats in Odisha, the results of which will be declared on May 23.
The counting of votes will begin at 8 am on May 23, Thursday. This time, following the Supreme Court's order, the Election Commission will tally the Voter-Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) slips with five EVMs per assembly segment, which can delay the counting process for over 5 hours or more.
The total number of electorates eligible to vote for the Odisha Assembly and Lok Sabha elections stood at 3.18 crore. Of the total 3.18 crore electorates, 1.63 crores are males while 1.54 crore are females. The state also registered over 5.45 lakh first-time voters, who come in the age group of 18 to 19 years.
The state electoral body had set up 37,606 polling stations for the smooth, free and fair conduct of the polls in Odisha. As many as 4,154 polling stations were set up in urban regions while 33,452 polling stations lie in rural regions of the state.
The state witnessed a triangular contest between the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. BJD chief Naveen Patnaik is one of the strongest contenders. Besides, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, former BJD leader Baijayant Panda, who recently joined hands with the saffron party, Congress’ Niranjan Patnaik and Narasingha Mishra are also in the fray. BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab and former state finance minister Prasanna Acharya are also among the prominent faces to watch out for.
Most of the exit polls have indicated a fifth consecutive term for Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha. In the Assembly election, Naveen Patnaik's party is ahead as per the exit polls forecast. Last time, BJD had secured 117 seats in the 147-member Odisha Assembly. The BJP could win in 10 seats in the assembly while Congress had 16 MLAs. The state's main opposition party - the Congress – has claimed that its performance this time will be much better than its 2014 election show.