Chief minister Naveen Patnaik at a polling booth on Wednesday. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee
Bhubaneswar, Jan. 8: The city recorded a turnout of only around 42 per cent as polling for the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation drew to an end this evening.
The polling percentage was, however, witnessed improvement that the last time, when 38.29 per cent citizens had cast their votes in 2009. Barring a clash between the supporters of Congress and the BJD at Kharavela Nagar in ward No. 41, the polling was by and large peaceful. Counting will be held tomorrow.
The clash, which left five persons injured and an equal number of vehicles damaged, forced police to resort to mild lathicharge. The incident took place when polling was in progress at six booths at Press Colony High School.
Bhubaneswar District Mahila Biju Janata Dal secretary Banaja Mohanty alleged that the Congress workers, who indulged in violence at the booth, also attacked her house. A relative of local BJD candidate Mamta Sahu also accused Congress supporters of trying to influence voters by offering cash. Congress supporters dismissed the BJD allegation saying the latter had indulged in violence.
There were reports of tension from polling booths in areas such as Forest Park, Niladri Vihar, Satya Nagar, Dumduma and Satya Nagar as well. Police commissioner R.P. Sharma attributed the clash at Kharavela Nagar to a long-standing dispute between residents of two colonies of the area.
“This had nothing to do with the election which was peaceful in the city as a whole,” said Sharma.
State Election Commissioner Ajit Kumar Tripathy said barring a few minor incidents, the polling process was smooth and peaceful. The commission had appointed five observers, 10 zone officers and 27 sector officers to keep watch on the polling process.
There were allegations of bogus voting in wards 15, 41 and 26. Residents of Gandamunda, Salia Sahi and Mali Sahi said that people whose names did not figure in the voters’ lists had cast their votes. Former councillor of ward No. 41 Gurucharan Sahoo alleged that Seikh Hazibur Rahman, a resident of Mali Sahi, found that some one had cast the vote in his name. Some people at Old Town also made similar allegations.
After the voting drew to an end, all the 660 polling parties arrived on BJB College campus in the evening. The counting of the votes will start at the college from 8am tomorrow. Final results will be available by 2pm.
Election officer-cum additional district magistrate Manoj Kumar Patnaik said about 130 officials would be engaged for counting.
After the conclusion of counting, names of the winning candidates will be sent to the office of the State Election Commission. Certificates to the winning candidates will be issued by the election officer on January 10.