Voter turnout jump to 73 percent as BJD and BJP engage in fierce poll battle in second phase of Odisha panchayat polls
The early trends of counting were already pointing at BJP making progress in districts where it has taken a lead in the first phase elections surprising the ruling party and poll pundits.
BHUBANESWAR: Voter turnout in the second phase of panchayat elections in Odisha on Wednesday rose and amidst reports of sporadic violence, boycotts and ballot-box snatching, the state recorded 73 per cent polling.
In the first phase, 71 per cent polling was recorded across 65 blocks of 29 districts where 189 ZPs had gone to the polls. On Wednesday, as many as 174 ZPs went to the polls in the same number of districts.
Dhenkanal recorded 83 per cent polling, followed by 82 per cent in Angul and 80 per cent in Puri. Malkangiri reported the lowest with 64 per cent. By 11.30 AM, the polling rate was 55 per cent across the districts.
The polling was, like the first phase on Monday, marred by violence at some places. In Boudh district’s Manmunda police limits, miscreants fired three rounds in air to terrorise the voters in Kashurbandha. The state police sources said, poll boycott was reported from at least a dozen places while the ballot boxes were snatched at two booths.
In the Maoist-hit Malkangiri district’s Korukunda block, there was zero turnout of voters in six of the 18 booths set up in Nakamamudi panchayat. However, no Naxal violence was reported.
State Election Commissioner RN Senapati said there were reports of sporadic violence and ballot box snatching. In Jajpur’s Danagadi, violence affected the poll process whereas in Rayagada’s Bisamkatak, miscreants entered the booths in a ward and disrupted the voting.
Similarly, Keonjhar’s Ghasipura witnessed commotion over mismatch of ballot papers. In Athagarh under Cuttack district, a clash broke out between two groups during campaigning.
“We are waiting for the detailed reports from Collectors so that re-polling can be ordered. Most of the re-polling will be completed by February 21. If polling is affected in any place in the last phase on February 21, the Commission might go for re-polling the next day,” Senapati said.
While the polling for the day was underway, the state BJP accused the BJD of using the government helicopter for election purposes and apprised the matter to the State Election commission. The ruling party returned the charges saying the saffron outfit has been bringing in cash from neighbouring states to distribute among the voters.
In the second phase of the 2012 rural polls, the BJD had bagged 135 out of 173 ZP seats while BJP had managed a distant third with just three seats.