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Civic polls largely peaceful

Cuttack, Feb. 6: Voters’ enthusiasm marked polling in the Cuttack civic elections today with over 57 per cent voters exercising their franchise. The polls were by and large incident-free.

District election officer Laxmidhar Mohanty said the average turnout at 422 voting sites across the city was nearly 60 per cent as polling for the Cuttack Municipal Corporation drew to an end. Counting of votes will be held tomorrow.

Police commissioner R.P. Sharma said: “Deployment of 45 platoons of police with special emphasis on cluster booths and mobile patrolling ensured a peaceful election in city as a whole.”

While the BJD with the help of an intensive campaign by chief minister Naveen Patnaik pulled out all stops to retain Odisha’s second richest civic body, the voting percentage was less than that in the last polls. About 3.9 lakh voters were eligible to cast their votes to decide the fortunes of 350 candidates, including 173 women, in the fray.

Enthusiasm was seen among voters, especially from the middle class and slum areas, with the young and the old queuing up outside booths to cast their votes. Polling at Bhanpur and Pratapnagari booths was as high as 90 per cent and 88 per cent, respectively.

Many voters had to return from the polling centres after they found that their names were missing from the list. “My name and the names of my husband and mother-in-law were missing,” said 46-year-old Alaka Patnaik at a polling booth in Reserve Police line.

There were reports of tension at Kumharsahi in ward No. 1 after gun-wielding criminals allegedly terrorised people to vote for a party.

BJP state general secretary Nayan Kishore Mohanty alleged bogus voting in ward Nos. 36, 46 and 47. “People whose names did not figure in the list had cast their votes,” he said, citing the case of Latika Swain and Manas Ranjan Nayak of Sikharpur who found that someone had cast the votes in their name at Kamalakanta Vidyapith.

Election was also held for Baripada Municipality in Mayurbjan district today. “The polls passed off peacefully and around 65 per cent of 68,854 voters cast their votes,” said district election officer Radhakrishna Rout.

As many as 140 candidates from 28 words were in the fray.