68% polling in ULB elections

OST Bureau

Bhubaneswar, Sep 19:

The elections for urban local bodies (ULBs) held today registered about 68% voter turn-out, state election commission (SEC) sources revealed on Thursday evening.

While the Maoists infested areas reported 60% voting, the polling by and large passed off peacefully in 20 districts.

Barring stray incident like electronic voting machine (EVM) glitches in Vyasnagar municipality of Jajpur district where re-polling would be conducted on Friday, the polling went off peacefully, SEC sources told OST.

Jajpur district collector informed that due to EVM issues it has been decided to conduct re-polling in booth no. 32 and 33 of ward no. 20 on Friday and counting for the municipality would be held on Saturday. The decision came after the EVMs at polling station number 32 and 33 of ward number 20 went defunct sometime after the polling started at 8am.

According to reports reaching here, issues relating to defunct EVMs were also reported from Koraput, Konark, Balasore, Puri and Nabrangpur.

Of the total 1,968 polling booths, 561 booths had been identified as sensitive and 108 hyper-sensitive category, state election commissioner Ajit Tripathy said adding that superintendents of police of respective districts had been directed to take all possible steps for conducting elections in a peaceful manner.

The fate of 1,103 ward members in 1,968 booths in 66 urban local bodies (ULBs), including the Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BMC) are now locked inside the electronic voting machines (EVMs). The counting of votes would take place tomorrow.

The outcome of the election is considered crucial for all three major political parties – BJD, Congress and BJP – since it is expected to give an indication of which way the political wind is blowing ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

It will also be the first litmus test for BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who is facing polls for the first time without his one-time trusted lieutenant Pyarimohan Mohapatra. The BJD had suffered defeat in all the three newly-formed notified area councils (NACs) at Atabira, Nuapada and Hindol where elections were held in March this year. Congress had emerged victorious in all three NACs.

Patnaik had campaigned extensively in a majority of urban local bodies, Further, the BJD had also engaged the maximum number of film actors to campaign in support of its nominees.

On the other hand, it is also important for Congress, more particularly PCC chief Jayadev Jena, who is facing opposition from within.

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