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Squads crack election code whip

Illegal posters and flags seized

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 2: The election officer for the municipal corporation polls has pressed 10 squads into service to remove campaign posters and banners from public places and government buildings.

Posters and publicity materials either pasted or hung from roadside poles or displayed across roads causing problems for vehicular movement and disfiguring walls of government buildings are not allowed, according to the model code of conduct, prescribed by the state election commission.

Two state government officials, assistant commissioner (enforcement) of the corporation Sumita Behera and sub-collector Subrat Panda, are leading the squads.

Election officer-cum-additional district magistrate Manoj Kumar Patnaik said: “The enforcement squads are visiting various wards between 10am and 5pm. The seized publicity materials are now being kept on the municipal corporation premises.”

“Today, we conducted our enforcement activities in Baramunda Housing Board Colony, Chandrasekharpur, Nayapalli, Ghakeisiani and Ainginia. Yesterday, we had seized a lot of materials and a truckload of them was taken to corporation office,” said Behera. The enforcement job will continue till 5pm on January 6, when campaigning is scheduled to end.

Special secretary to the state election commissioner R.N. Sahu said: “The candidates or parties are first given notices not to repeat the illegal activities on government buildings. If they continue to do so, the cost of the removing them will be added to their poll expenditure.”

The election commission has also appointed five poll observers and three financial observers. The election commissioner’s office has received 10 formal complaints so far on the violation of model code of conduct.

Voting machines

Nearly 700 electronic voting machines (EVMs) were taken from the state election commission’s office to the Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar (BJB) College this afternoon. The election officer will now shift base from the assistant district magistrate’s office to the college at BJB Nagar.

“The EVMs will be readied for the respective polling booths and its various components will be sealed after conditioning of the machines according to their boothwise requirements. The process will continue for two days starting on January 4,” said Patnaik.

The city will have 660 polling booths and an equal number of EVMs will be in use. Ward No. 21 has more than 16 candidates and an extension of the voting pad will be allowed for comfortable polling there. However, the central processing unit will be the same for both the components. As a backup, 10 per cent of the EVMs will be kept.

Campaign intensifies

Campaigning by various political parties and the Independents has intensified in the city with the BJP taking out a padyatra and organising a roadside meeting at Dumduma this afternoon. Party leaders Surama Padhi and Samir Mohanty were present at the event. BJD leaders Debiprasad Mishra and Ashok Kumar Panda led a padyatra in the Ekamra Assembly constituency area, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Jaydev Jena today organised a padyatra in the same area.

On Monday, the Congress organised its first poll campaign near the Lingaraj temple.