Phulbani, Oct 15: Voting began for by-election to Odisha's communally sensitive Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency where an estimated 11.4 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise.
Amid tight security, polling commenced at 7 am in the Maoist-hit constituency spread over Kandhamal, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Boudh districts. The bypoll was necessitated following death of BJD MP Hemendra Chandra Singh on September 5.
"Polling is in progress smoothly and no untoward incident has been reported from any place," district election officer (DEO), Kandhamal, S Kar said.
"We have made all the required arrangements for conducting a free and fair polling," Kandhamal District Magistrate N Thirumala Nayak, who is also the returning officer, said.
Voting is being held in 1,497 polling stations spread over seven Assembly segments - Phulbani, G Udaygiri, Baliguda, Boudh, Kantamal, Bhanjanagar and Daspalla.
Of the 1,497 polling booths, 530 have been identified as sensitive where central paramilitary forces like CRPF and BSF jawans have been deployed for conducting free and fair polling, Nayak said, adding they have set up 25 model booths in Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat this time.
The fate of seven candidates including Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh (BJD), Abhimanyu Behera (Cong) and Rudra Madhav Ray (BJP) would be decided in the by-election.
Pratyusha's late husband had won the polls from Kandhamal in the May with a margin of 1.81 lakh votes. Counting of votes would be held on October 19.