Bhubaneswar: About 70 per cent of the 41.88 lakh electorate exercised their franchise in the fifth and last phase of the three-tier panchayat election in Odisha on Thursday.
Aditya Prasad Padhi State election Commissioner (SEC) said that the polling percentage is likely to go up when the final list is available on Friday.
Rural Poll was peaceful and smooth in Swabhiman Anchal, the Red Corridor in Malkangiri district, but there were reports of sporadic disturbances from the coastal region of the state, Mr.Padhi said.
Of over 41.88 lakh voters, nearly 70 per cent people cast their votes and the polling percentage could be more when the final list is available on Friday, Mr.Padhi told Media.
“I am delighted that voting was absolutely peaceful and smooth in Swabhiman Anchal and also in some left wing extremism hit pockets of other districts. The average poll percentage in the previous four phases of voting was also 70 per cent,” SEC Mr.Padhi said.
Holding peaceful poll was a challenge in Swabhiman Anchal in Chitrakonda block of Malkangiri as the LWEs had called for poll boycott, Malkangiri Sub-Collector Upendra Khemundi said.
“While anti-Maoist operation by Odisha Police and Grey Hound force of Andhra Pradesh ensured peaceful voting by conducting patrolling on foot in the dense jungles and hills in Malkangiri, local police and the BSF used drones to keep watch on the movement of LWEs,” the senior official said.
Residents of Jantri gram panchayat in Swabhiman Anchal turned up in large numbers to exercise their franchise in 11 temporary polling booths withstanding Maoist threat, he added.
Polling process was peaceful in Baipariguda and Lamtapur panchayats of Koraput district, where too Maoists have influence, said the senior official.
On the other hand complaints of booth capturing, snatching and dumping of ballot papers in tanks and clashes among people were received by the SEC from coastal districts of Bhadrak, Cuttack and Ganjam, SEC Secretary R N Sahu told Media.
“The Commission will take appropriate action and may announce re-poll in some booths after getting reports from the district collectors,” SEC Secretary said.
In the fifth phase polling was held for 131 zilla parishad member posts in 975 panchayats under 48 blocks of 25 districts. As many as 13,514 booths were set up for the voters to cast their votes this time.
While a total 2.2 lakh candidates contested the elections, the SEC declared 36,523 ward members, 126 sarpanch, 326 panchayat samiti members and one zilla parishad member as uncontested winners, the SEC pointed out.
The Commission said that more than one lakh state government employees were engaged in election duty in the five phases and around 40,000 police personnel were deployed to maintain law and order for the poll.
The SEC has announced ex gratia of Rs 15 lakh to families of each of the three police personnel killed in a road mishap in Nabarangpur district on 19 February.