BHUBANESWAR: The electoral battle between Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scaling new highs every round, the stage is set for the third phase of panchayat elections on Friday when the fate of another 175 Zilla Parishad (ZPs) members will be decided.
The election will be held across all 30 districts in this phase. With the ruling party and BJP grabbing the number one and two spots respectively, the third round will be about consolidation and both the parties are leaving nothing to chance.
The close contests between candidates of the two parties saw a spate of violence across Cuttack, Bhadrak, Angul, Keonjhar and Kendrapara districts. Niali and Athagarh, which had witnessed violence, reported a further escalation in the tension over the political rivalry. In Niali, a BJD supporter was killed two days ago.
Similarly, in Athagarh, where a clash broke out on Wednesday, saw a further build-up of tension with group clashes. However, there was no breakdown of law and order problem in any part of the State. The State Police was also on the alert in southern districts of Koraput and Malkangiri where Maoist-sensitive pockets will go to polls on Friday. One ZP constituency in Narayanpatna, two in Pottangi and three in Borigumma will go to polls on Friday whereas, in Malkangiri, four constituencies in Mathili and Podia will be decided.
DIG of South Western Range S Shyni took stock of the security arrangements in Narayanpatna block where 86 booths are designated hypersensitive while nine are sensitive. Special emphasis is being given to the free and fair conduct of the polls apart from safety to polling parties, she said.
The senior IPS officer also held discussions with local polling officers and Border Security Force on the arrangements. Area domination and surveillance have been mounted in the block which was a Maoist stronghold.
Even as the preparations for the third phase polls have been complete, the State Election Commission on Thursday ordered re-polling in 25 wards of Bhadrak, Dhenkanal, Ganjam, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Kendrapara, Keonjhar and Rayagada districts. Ganjam will see re-polling in 11 wards, the highest among districts. The poll panel has set February 20, 21 and 22 for the fresh polling in these wards.