BHUBANESWAR: Political parties in Odisha are in for a reality check when elections to panchayati raj institutions in the state take place in February 2017.
State Election Commissioner [SEC] R N Senapati notified the election on Tuesday. The polls will be held in five phases: Feb. 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21. Polling on each of these five days will start at 7 am and go on till 12 noon. Counting will commence at 1 pm and go on till completion.
Elections will be held to 853 seats in the zilla parishads, 6665 seats in the panchayat samitis, 6801 sarpanches and 92,029 wards. Fifty per cent of the seats are reserved for women.
With the notification of the polls, the model code of conduct has come into force in Odisha. It will have effect till February 21 throughout the state.
However, elections to posts of sarpanch and 23 ward members of the Dhinkia gram panchayat in Jagatsinghpur's Ersama block will not be held as per orders of the Orissa High Court. Similarly, polling for six gram panchayats including Parjang [Dehnaknal], Dasarathpur [Jajpur], Kolabira and Laikera [Jharsuguda], Bhawanipatna [Kalahandi] and Rengali [Sambalpur] have not been notified for similar reasons.
Senapati said normal development works and programmes that have already been started relief and restoration works for which expenditure has been passed in the Assembly will continue. However, no new schemes or projects can be floated.
Similarly, financial concessions by the government or its agencies cannot be declared as they are likely to influence the voters, directly or indirectly.
The SEC has already instructed the government not to transfer any official, including collectors and SPs without its prior permission. State employees related to the elections have been asked to maintain neutrality.
As per the schedule of the elections, nomination papers can be filed between January 11 and 17. Scrutiny will be held on January 18 while the last date for withdrawal of nominations is January 21. The final list of eligible contestants will be declared the same day.
There are 853 ZP members, 6801 panchayat samiti members, 6802 sarpanchs and 92052 ward members in the State. As many as 2.60 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise during the polls by producing their identity cards at the polling stations.