High-pitched campaign for first phase of panchayat polls in Odisha ends

Bhubaneswar: The high-pitched campaigning for the first phase of the three-tier panchayat elections in Odisha came to an end this evening with with the three major political parties making their last efforts to woo the voters in favour of their respective canddiates.

While Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik campaigned for BJD candidates in his home constituency of Hinjilicut in Ganjam district in South Odisha, his Chhattishgarh counterpart Raman Singh addressed at least two public meetings in Sundergarh district in Western Odisha. Singh was accompanied by union Tribal Affairs minister Jual Oram.

Former Jharkhand Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Arjun Munda campaigned in Mayurbhanj district while Union Minister Ram Kripal Yadav addressed meetings in Bhadrak district.

“I am sure, the BJD candidates will do well in the panchayat elections,” Patnaik said after attending at least 33 road shows in his home turf.

Raman Singh wooed voters by informing the people that they too can have a better life like the residents of Chhattishgarh if they vote for the BJP candidates. He also targeted the BJD government for politicising the Mahanadi water dispute.

“The people in Odisha want to know about what steps have been taken to address migration problem, poverty, electricity, road and farming issues. But, they are raising the Mahanadi issue at the time of Panchayat polls to divert attention from the core issues,” said Singh.
Not leaving behind in the electioneering process, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Prasad Harichandan campaigned at several places in the state. Leader of opposition Narasingh Mishra campagined extensively in Bolangir district.
Meanwhile, the State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday announced that arrangements have been made for the first phase Panchayat polls in Odisha scheduled to begin at 7 am on February 13.

“Elections will be held in 189 Zilla Parishad Zones in 29 districts in which a total of 58,28,446 voters will exercise their franchise. Polling will be conducted in 20,369 booths. The elections would be held in 1506 Gram Panchayats,” SEC secretary Rabindranath Sahu told reporters here.

The Commission has also directed the District Collectors to make necessary arrangements for installation of CCTV cameras and videography in hyper-sensitive and sensitive booths, if required.

Sahu said the polling parties would reach their allotted polling booths by tomorrow afternoon.

“Leaders, who are not the voters and presently staying in the area where the elections would be held on February 13, will have to leave the area by this evening,” he added.

The elections will be held in five phases on February 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21. Polling on each of these five days will start at 7 am and go on till 12 noon.