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Rural polls in 5 phases

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 26: The state election commission today notified the schedule for the three-tier panchayat elections to be held in five phases in February.

State election commissioner Sanjib Hota said the model code of conduct came into effect throughout Orissa today and would remain in place till conclusion of the polls. The government has been told not to transfer employees engaged in poll-related work without the panel’s permission.

For the first time, the commission has imposed a ceiling on poll expenses fixing Rs 75,000 for candidates contesting the office of zilla parishad member and Rs 30,000 for those fighting for the posts of sarpanch and panchayati samiti member.

As many as 30 expenditure observers have been appointed to check the poll expenses. “Expenditure exceeding the ceiling will be treated as corrupt practice,” said Hota.

Similarly, restrictions have been imposed on the use of vehicles for the campaign. Candidates contesting the office of zilla parishad member can use two jeeps or cars and four motorcycles. Aspiring sarpanch and panchayat samiti members, on the other hand, can avail of one jeep or car and two motorcycles.

Direct election to the panchayats (for the posts of sarpanch and ward, panchayat samiti and zilla parishad members) would be held in five phases starting February 13. The other dates are February 15, 17, 19 and 21. The schedule for the Basudevpur panchayat samiti (Bhadrak), however, would not be published without the high court’s permission.

Around 2.36 crore rural voters of the state would directly elect 87,542 ward members, 6,234 sarpanchs, 6,233 panchayat samiti members and 854 zilla parishad members. The directly elected representatives would, in turn, elect the panchayat samiti chairpersons and vice-chairpersons and zilla parishad presidents and vice-presidents.

The results would be declared on February 22 and 24 and the names of the winners would be published on February 23, 25 and 27.

Election to posts of naib sarpanch, chairperson and vice-chairperson of panchayati samiti and president and vice-president of zilla parishad would be held on March 10, 11, 13, 21 and 22.

Hota said the Naveen Patnaik government had allotted Rs 35 crore of which Rs 3 crore would be handed over to the director-general of police while the commission would use Rs 30 crore for election work. The commission has appointed 25 observers for smooth conduct of the polls.

The panel today banned the use of axe during the poll campaign but candidates and their supporters are allowed to carry bows and arrows.

The last panchayat polls were held in 2001. Election to only two posts — zilla parishad president and vice-president — would be held on political lines.

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