Polling for urban local bodies begins in Odisha
BHUBANESWAR: The polling to elect 1,899 councillors, 106 chairpersons, and mayors for 109 urban local bodies, including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, and Berhampur municipal corporations, in Odisha began on Thursday morning.
Over four million voters are eligible to vote across 4,475 booths between 8 am and 5 pm. Voting machine glitches were reported from Bhubaneswar and Nuapada as the polling began. Polling was delayed at three booths in Bhubaneswar and one in Nuapada.
State election commissioner Aditya Prasad Padhi said 22,000 officials have been deployed for the electoral process. The results will be announced on Saturday as direct elections are being held for the first time for the posts of chairpersons and mayors.
“As many as 195 platoons of the police...have been deployed... At least 30 platoons have been deployed in Bhubaneswar... Similarly, 20 and 10 platoons... in Cuttack and Berhampur... mobile squads will be operating in different areas,” said Padhi.
The polls have been due since December 2018 and July 2019. They were first delayed after a plea was filed in the Orissa high court in 2018 alleging the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes exceeded 50% in 2012, 2017 panchayat elections, and 2013 civic polls in violation of a Supreme Court order.
The high court in 2018 directed the government that reserved seats should not exceed the cap in the non-scheduled areas. The state government in September 2018 moved the Supreme Court, which rejected its appeal. A special leave petition was also rejected in January 2019 as the Supreme Court asked the government to abide by the high court directive. The election process was later delayed due to the Covid pandemic.
Alleged pre-poll violence was reported from Balasore, where a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporter suffered injuries after he was allegedly stabbed on Wednesday.