Security has been tightened, and 60 companies of paramilitary forces – each comprising about 100 troopers – have been deployed in vulnerable areas to ensure trouble-free polling, Director General of Police Prakash Mishra told IANS.
More than 20,000 policemen have also been engaged to ensure free and fare balloting, and three choppers pressed into service in Maoist-affected areas, he said.
The rebels recently put up posters in some parts of the state, urging people to boycott the polls in Koraput, Malkangiri, Rayagada, Kalahandi and Kandhamal districts, that will see balloting in the first phase.
However, most of the polling officials have reached their destinations without any trouble, said Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Akhileswar Singh.
Police are also in touch with their counterparts in neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh to foil any attempt by the guerrillas to disrupt the election.
Maoists recently dug up a road between Mahupadar and Salimi villages in Malkangiri along the Odisha-Chhattisgarh border to prevent the movement of polling officials and security forces. The road has been repaired, Akhileswar Singh said.
Polling for 21 Lok Sabha seats and the 147-member assembly would be held simultaneously April 10 and 17. There are a total of 2,88,80,850 voters in the state.
About 1.36 crore (over 13 million) voters will decide the fate of 98 candidates for the 10 Lok Sabha and 688 aspirants for the 70 assembly seats in the first phase.
Prominent among those who will test their luck in the first phase are Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, and two former chief ministers and senior Congress leaders Giridhar Gomang and Hemananda Biswal.
State Revenue Minister Surya Narayan Patro, former union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Jual Oram, state BJP president K.V. Singh Deo, and Congress leader Narasingh Mishra are also in the fray.
Odisha saw intense campaigning by political heavyweights, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi, BJP chief Rajnath Singh and prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.