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Ramakanta Biswas

Though the first phase voting of the three-tier Panchayat elections began in Odisha on Wednesday, the residents of two remote villages in Kalahandi district boycotted the vote over their demands for road and drinking water. 

The residents of Upardunda and Taladunda in Dundelmal panchayat in Junagarh block of Kalahandi district reportedly denied entry to the polling officers who were on their way to the villages to conduct the voting. 

Odisha Panchayat Polls Live Updates: Over 30% Voter Turnout Recorded Till 11 AM

The villagers erected bamboo barricade at the entrance of the locality restricting entry of the polling team. The election officials reportedly remained halted since yesterday. They faced stiff opposition from the locals when they tried to gain entry into the villages today morning. 

A large number of villagers were seen blocking the road and shouting slogans on poll boycott. “Vote boycott our demand, no road, no vote and no drinking water, no vote, they shouted as the polling officers turned mute spectators. 

In another incident, Sports & Youth Services Minister Tusharkanti Behera faced the opposition of locals at his home turf on Wednesday. The Minister had gone to Nagar panchayat in Astarang of Puri for campaigning for party candidate when the residents reportedly gheraoed him over drinking water problems faced by them. 

The Minister was forced to remain halted in the house of a supporter for about 2 hours. The villagers allowed him to go after the minister promised to resolve the issues. 

It can be noted that the first phase of the three-tier panchayat elections began today. Voters will be allowed to exercise their franchise between 7 am and 1 pm. The polls will be held in five phases on February 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24.

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