First phase of Odisha panchayat polls held peacefully

Bhubaneswar, Feb 13 (IANS) Barring stray incidents, the first phase of polling in the three-tier panchayat elections concluded peacefully in Odisha on Monday.

The poll witnessed about 71 per cent voter turnout across the state with Sonepur district recording highest polling of 84.3 per cent and lowest in Balangir district with 60 per cent, state Election Commissioner R.N. Senapati said.

The Election Commissioner said his office had received information about some minor incidents including booth capturing, ballot box looting and boycotting of votes at some places.

“We will hold re-polls after getting detailed information from the respective district collectors,” said Senapati.

People were seen standing in serpentine queues to cast their vote. The balloting began at 7 a.m. and continued till 12 p.m.

The election was held in 65 blocks of 29 districts to elect their representatives in 188 Zilla Parishad seats, 1,506 Sarpanch seats, 1,506 Samiti member seats and 20,369 Ward Members seats.

After the polling got over, the counting of votes began in the presence of agents of different political parties.

The official announcement of the names of the winning Ward Members and Sarpanches will be made on February 23 and Zilla Parishad members and Panchayat Samiti members on February 25.

Adequate security arrangements were made at the booths to avoid untoward incidents. Special arrangements were made in the Maoist prone districts, Senapati said.

Necessary arrangements were made for installation of CCTV cameras and conduct videography in hyper-sensitive and sensitive booths.

The panchayat polls are being held in five phases across the state. The remaining four phases of the rural polls will be held on February 15, 17, 19 and 21.