Odisha Panchayati Raj elections

Polling concludes for panchayat elections in Odisha, counting of votes from February 26 to 28

Published : February 24, 2022 20:09 IST

People standing in a queue to cast their votes during the fifth and last phase of the Odisha panchayat elections, at a polling station in Balakati, in Khordha, on February 24. Photo: PTI

Polling for elections to the three-tier Panchayati Raj institutions in Odisha concluded with the fifth and last phase of polling held on February 24. The elections were by and large peaceful and voter turnout in the State remained above 79 per cent.

Although several incidents of violence and booth-capturing were reported during the first two phases, the number of such incidents declined in the subsequent phases of polling. Two workers of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) were killed in Bhadrak and Nayagarh districts during the elections.

While people boycotted the elections at a few places to highlight their demands, the State saw a large number of tribal people exercising their franchise in different inaccessible and Maoist-infested areas. Polling was held peacefully in Swabhiman Anchal in the last phase after a long gap. The election in Swabhiman Anchal, earlier a cut-off area located in Malkangiri district, was last held in 2007. The 2012 panchayat election witnessed an extremely low voter turnout as the polling booths were set-up at far off places. The election was cancelled in 2017 due to Maoist threat.

The current panchayat elections were held in 91,913 booths for 1,06,353 posts and arrangements were made for more than 2.79 crore voters to exercise their franchise. After 36,523 Ward Members, 126 Sarpanchs, 326 Panchayat Samiti Members and one Zilla Parishad Member were elected unopposed, around 2.2 lakh nominees contested in the elections, according to the State Election Commission.

Counting of votes

The counting of votes will at held at the block headquarters across the State from February 26 to 28. Adequate police personnel have been deployed at the strong rooms where ballot boxes are being kept and measures are afoot to maintain peace during the counting votes.

While candidates for the post of Zilla Parishad Members contested the election on party symbols, those who fought for the post of Members of Panchayat Samitis, Sarpanchs and Ward Members contested without party affiliation despite many being affiliated to different parties.

The three major parties that fielded their candidates in most of the Zilla Parishad seats across the State were the ruling BJD, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.

The BJD had won 473 out of the 846 Zilla Parishad seats for which elections were held in 2017. The BJP had won 297 seats to emerge as the main opposition party and Congress had won 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.

The BJD is likely to repeat its 2012 performance and the BJP will not be able to win more seats than it won in 2017 due to infighting. The vote share of the Congress is likely to increase compared with the last elections though it may fail to win more seats due to weak leadership and lack of resources.