Odisha Panchayat poll: Close watch on Maoist hotbeds in last leg today

Change in political dynamics has led to electoral violence, but no Maoist disturbance reported in the State so far.

Published: 21st February 2017 02:11 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st February 2017 09:28 AM   |  A+A-

Cuttack, Third Phase

Voters wait in a queue to exercise their franchise during the 3rd phase of Odisha’s Panchayat election in Kantapada village in Cuttack on Friday. | PTI File Photo

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: The last phase of the fiercely-contested panchayat polls only hours away, security personnel are keeping a close watch on the Maoist hotbeds in the western and southern districts of Odisha which have so far remained free of Red violence.

The fifth and last phase of elections on Tuesday will decide the fate of 591 contestants vying for 150 ZP member seats in 58 blocks of 26 districts.

While a change in political dynamics has led to electoral violence across the districts, no Maoist disturbance has been reported in the State so far. The State Police is on its toes to ensure that the last phase too passes off smoothly. Interestingly, in the Maoist hotbeds, the polling percentage has been more than encouraging this time.

Special attention is being given to Nuapada, Kalahandi and Koraput districts where sensitive and hyper-sensitive booths are located. Niyamgiri, Patdhara, Madanpur Rampur, Lanjigarh and Thuamul Rampur are known hotbeds of the Left rebels and police are keeping a close watch on the situation there.

Nandapur in Koraput and bordering areas of Nuapada are other places where surveillance has been raised while area domination operations have been intensified.

Sources in the State Police said electoral disturbances are also being expected in sensitive pockets of coastal districts where BJD holds sway while districts like Balangir, Bargarh and Mayurbhanj will see close contests. In Mayurbhanj alone, 14 ZP seats will go to polls.

The polling will be held in 16,148 Wards belonging to 1,137 gram panchayats where arrangements are in place for 44.5 lakh voters. The State Election Commission said, results would not be announced for Belapada ZP zone in Balangir as election to one GP has been stayed as per court orders.

Meanwhile, the poll panel has ordered re-polling in 19 Wards of 10 districts where disturbance was reported during the election in the last phase.

They were released on personal bonds after questioning.  Rourkela BJD president AC Mohanty said Nayak had gone there to meet party workers and umbrellas found in the jeep were not meant for distribution to voters, but for a function.

The driver erred in removing the umbrellas from the vehicle, he added. On February 14 night, Nayak was manhandled and abused in Jhirpani area by supporters of an Independent candidate, but no case was registered then.

Voting will be held for two ZP seats of Gurudia on Tuesday in the last phase.


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