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Over 80% Polling

Bargarh: Over 80 per cent polling was recorded in by-poll to Padampur Assembly constituency in Bargarh district.

As per preliminary reports, the total voter turnout was little more than 80 per cent, which is the highest in the constituency so far. However, the final polling percentage will be known once the polling officials return from the booths, an official said. Voter turnout in the constituency in 2019 was 79 per cent.

The voting was conducted smoothly at 319 polling stations under tight security arrangements.

Over 2.57 lakh voters, including 12 members of the transgender community, were eligible to exercise their franchise in the by-poll.

Voting was partially disrupted in a few booths due to technical snag in the EVM. Voting, however, remained smooth and peaceful in all the other booths during the bypoll, said Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) SK Lohani.

At least 15 platoons of police and nine companies of central paramilitary forces had been deployed to ensure smooth voting, they said.

The by-election assumes significance in the wake of the BJD’s loss in Dhamnagar, its first such defeat since 2009, with many in political circles claiming that the result would also indicate if electoral scales were tilting against the Naveen Patnaik-led party ahead of the 2024 state elections.

There are 10 candidates in the fray for the by-poll. The ruling BJD fielded Barsha Singh Bariha, the daughter of Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha whose death necessitated the by-poll, while the opposition BJP’s nominee is the former MLA and party’s Krushak Morcha president Pradip Purohit.

Congress’ candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu had won the seat three times earlier.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik campaigned for the BJD candidate, while Union ministers Narendra Sigh Tomar, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Dharmendra Pradhan and Bishweswar Tudu canvassed for Purohit.

BJD candidate Barsha Singh Bariha and Purohit, the BJP nominee and Congress’ Satya Sahu cast their votes in their respective booths.

“We have deployed sufficient police force in the strong room. Three layers of security arrangements have been made in and around the strong room,” said Bargarh collector Monisha Banerjee.

Votes will be counted on December 8. Counting will start at 8 am at 14 tables. There will be 23 rounds of counting of votes, she said.