The electoral fate of Biju Janata Dal chief and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will be decided on Thursday as the states votes to elect representatives to 35 Assembly constituencies in the second phase of the elections. Polling is also being held in the Aska, Kandhamal, Sundergarh, Bargarh and Bolangir Lok Sabha constituencies. The votes will be counted on May 23.

Patnaik is contesting from two Assembly seats – Hinjili in Ganjam district and Bijepur in Bargarh – for the first time. If elected, it will be his fifth term at the helm of the state. Taking a jibe at the 73-year-old leader, the Bharatiya Janata Party has claimed that Patnaik is contesting from Bijepur as he is afraid of losing in Hinjili.

The BJP suffered a setback after its senior leader Subash Chouhan resigned from the party for being denied re-nomination from Bargarh, reported the Hindustan Times. Chouhan joined the ruling BJD.

More than 76 lakh voters will exercise their franchise on Thursday. There are 244 candidates in the fray. Apart from Patnaik, the other important candidates are senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra in Bolangir Assembly seat and BJP leader KV Singhdeo.

Chief Election Officer Surendra Kumar said preparations for the second phase of polls were foolproof. “For the first time in the state, the vehicles of all sector officers are provided with GPS tracking facilities to ensure proper monitoring,” he told PTI. Central Armed Police Force personnel will be deployed in 739 of 9,117 booths.

Security has been beefed up in areas such as Kandhamal, Bolangir and Bargarh, where Maoists are present. Paramilitary forces, police, flying squads, static surveillance teams, poll observers, videography teams and excise sleuths will be deployed in these constituencies.

Elections to 28 Assembly constituencies were held on April 11 in the first phase of voting. The overall turnout was 73.76%.

The remaining phases of the Assembly election will be held on April 23 and April 29. In the 2014 elections to the 147-seat Assembly, the BJD had won 116 seats while the Congress bagged 16 and the BJP 10.