A record 80.5 per cent polling was registered in the by-election to the Padampur Assembly seat in Odisha’s Bargarh Monday as voting ended peacefully without any untoward incident despite Maoist threat in a few pockets of the constituency, said officials.
Bargarh district collector Monisha Banerjee said according to the latest information, the voting percentage is estimated at 80.5 per cent. Official sources said the final voting percentage may change. The constituency has witnessed 79.05 per cent in the 2019 Assembly polls. “Though we had received some complaints from certain booths, we found no irregularities when we visited the places. Voting ended peacefully and the EVMs are being stored in the strong room with proper security,” said Banerjee.
Even as voting time was curtailed by an hour to 4 pm because of Maoist threat in some pockets, long queues were seen outside more than 70 of the 319 booths by 4 pm, who were allowed to cast their votes.
Huge enthusiasm was noticed among voters during the initial hours after voting started at 7 am. Many first-time voters also turned up at several booths to exercise their franchise. Some people came to the booths in wheelchairs.
Technical glitches in EVMs were reported from a few booths which were replaced following which voting continued without any hassle.
While BJP candidate Pradip Purohit and Congress nominee Satya Bhusan Sahu voted in their respective booths in Paikmal blocks, the ruling BJD’s Barsha Singh Bariha exercised her right at a booth in the Padampur notified area council. “Earlier, I was turning up at booths to vote for my father while this time I have come here to vote for myself. I know people of Padampur must have blessed me,” said Bariha.
The bypoll was necessitated following the death of BJD MLA Bijaya Ranjan Singh Bariha in October this year.
The administration had identified as many as 79 critical booths and made special arrangements. Webcasting was done in 120 booths while CCTV was installed in 66 of them. As many as 91 micro observers were deployed while extra central armed police force (CAPF) personnel were also deployed in sensitive and Maoist-infested areas.
There were 1413 police personnel, including 206 officers, 21 platoons of armed police, 445 Havildars/Constables and 132 Home guards, and nine companies of CAPF, who were engaged for the smooth conduct of polling.
The counting of votes will take place on December 8 for which the district administration has made adequate arrangements. The district collector said counting would start at 8 am for which 14 tables have been arranged and there will be 23 rounds.