Ramakanta Biswas

The polling for the byelection to Padampur assembly constituency in Bargarh district is currently underway. As many as 2,57,474 electorates are exercising their franchise. Among them is Umesh Panigrahi, an NRI living in Oman, who returned home with the sole purpose of exercising his democracy rights by casting his vote.    

Panigrahi, 38, who moved to the Arabian nation some 11-12 years ago, is elated after casting vote for the first time in his life. 

“I have been living in Oman for the past 11-12 years. Though I became an eligible voter 20 years back, unluckily I could not cast my vote for various reasons. But this time, I managed to avail leave, and made other arrangements to reach home and finally cast my vote,” said Panigrahi.  

Padampur Bypoll: Differently Abled Voters Set Example

Asked about the major issues in the bypoll, Panigrahi said, “Many developmental issues were discussed in the run up to the bypoll. However, as an NRI my demands will be development of air infrastructures like airstrip and airport so that I can reach home easily via Delhi and Mumbai. At present, I have to land at Raipur in Chhattisgarh and then travel by road to reach home.” 

Panigrahi proudly flaunted his inked finger after casting his vote this morning. Interestingly, he cast his maiden vote in a booth set up in the village school where he completed his primary education.   

“Throughout these years, I was feeling guilty for not being able to cast vote in the election. However, this time I reached home and exercised the franchise for the first time. I am feeling like 18 today,” said Panigrahi.  

The voting for the bypoll which began at 7am will continue till 4pm. BJD candidate Barsha Singh Bariha, Congress’ Satyabhushan Sahu and BJP’s Pradip Purohit are in the fray for the assembly seat. The counting of votes will be held on December 8.

Reported by Manoranjan Joshi, OTV