The agitation over establishment of Orissa High Court bench has taken its toll on the urban local body (ULB) polls in Western and Northern Odisha districts as no nomination papers were filed in 20 municipalities and notified area councils (NACs).
Saturday was the last date for filing nomination papers which began on August 20. As per reports received by the State Election Commission (SEC) by the close of the day, not a single nomination paper was filed in 20 ULBs in nine districts. In the rest 20 districts, nomination filing was smooth and no untoward incident was reported from anywhere.
At least six districts including Balangir, Deogarh, Jharsuguda, Nuapada, Sambalpur and Sonepur saw a complete boycott of nomination process. There are 14 ULBs which will go to polls in these districts on September 19 with rest of the State barring Kandhamal.
However, in Sundargarh, Kalahandi and Bargarh districts, four ULBs reported filing of nomination papers while six urban bodies reported boycott.
In Padampur NAC of Bargarh, 50 nomination papers were filed whereas 13 nomination papers each were filed in Bhawanipatna Municipality and Kesinga NAC under Kalahandi. Sundargarh district’s Rourkela Municipality received one nomination paper.
With the boycott of polls casting a shadow on the election process in Western and Northern Odisha districts, the SEC is likely to take a call on August 29, the last date for withdrawal of the candidature.
“After the withdrawal process is over, a clear picture on candidature will emerge and the Commission will decide its course of action for the ULBs/districts where the election has been boycotted,” said an official spokesman.
As per Section 11(5) of the Odisha Municipal Act, 1950, if no nomination is filed for reserved category seats, re-election will not be held and instead, the State Government will have the authority to nominate persons of its choice to these positions. On the other hand, re-election can be conducted for unreserved category seats if nominations are not filed.
The reserved category comprises candidates from scheduled caste, schedule tribe, women and other backward classes and account for about 65 per cent of the seats in municipal bodies. Fifty per cent of the seats are reserved women candidates.