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Odisha panchayat elections to be held in five phases in February

Published : Jan 11, 2022 15:45 IST T+T-
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Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha and president, BJD.

The State Election Commission of Odisha has announced that elections to the three-tier Panchayati Raj institutions will be held in the State in five phases starting from February 16. While the second phase of polling will be held on February 18, the remaining three phases will be held on February 20, 22 and 24. The polling will be conducted between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. The counting of votes will be held at the Block offices from February 26 to 28.

In the three-tier simultaneous elections, while the candidates for the post of Members of Zilla Parishad will contest on party symbols, the elections for the post of Members of Panchayat Samitis, Sarpanchs and Ward Members will be fought by all the contestants without party affiliation. The model code of conduct issued by the commission will remain in force from January 11 to February 28 throughout the State.

Though January 22 and 23 are government holidays, the office of the Election Officer will remain open for the scrutiny of nominations and publication of list of valid candidates, the commission said.

Opposition parties in the State are in favour of postponing the elections in view of the sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. But the commission reviewed the COVID-19 situation in the State on January 8 and said the guidelines issued by it on January 10 will be strictly observed during the elections.

The third wave of the pandemic has already hit the state and it reported a total of 7,071 new COVID-19 cases on January 11.

No elections in Dhinkia

The commission, however, ordered that election will not be held in Dhinkia gram panchayat under Erasama Block of Jagatsinghpur district to elect Ward Members and the Sarpanch. Dhinkia village remains tense due to the protest by its residents against land acquisition for the proposed steel plant project of JSW Utkal Steel Ltd.

Going by the prevailing political situation, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seems to be ahead of its main rivals, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. The recently launched Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, under which smart health cards have been issued to all families covered under the food security schemes, may prove beneficial for the BJD.

Out of the 846 Zilla Parishad seats for which elections were held in February 2017, the BJD had won 473 seats. The BJP had won 297 seats, replacing Congress as the main opposition party in the State. The Congress had won just 60 seats.

In the panchayat elections held in 2012 for 854 seats, the BJD had won 654 seats, followed by the Congress with 128 seats and the BJP with 36 seats.

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