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Ramakanta Biswas

The campaigning for the upcoming elections to urban local bodies (ULBs) in Odisha has gained momentum with the State Election Commission (SEC) releasing the final list of candidates contesting the polls.   

There are 6,411 candidates in the fray for the elections to ULBs following withdrawal of nominations by 641 aspirants on the last day of the process on Monday. The polling for 109 civic bodies, including three municipal corporations, is scheduled to be held on March 24. 

With the withdrawal of nomination papers, now 569 candidates are vying for the post of chairperson or mayor, while 5,842 are contesting for the post of councilor or corporator.

As many as 102 candidates who had filed their nominations for the post of chairperson or mayor have opted out, while 539 people withdrew nominations from the post of councillor or corporator.

The aspirants in fray are now leaving no stones unturned to win the hearts of the voters and ensure mandate in their favour. The contenders were seen holding door-to-door campaigns to woo the electorate.

District Collectors have been asked to ensure that the ongoing campaigning for the urban polls ends at 5 pm on March 22, 48 hours before the polling.

As per rules, no one would be allowed to convene or attend any public meeting in any polling area during the period of 48 hours before voting.

In a letter to all district collectors, SEC Secretary Rabindra Sahu said that public meetings and campaigning in any mode should be positively stopped at 5 pm on March 22.

The polls to the 109 ULBs have already been delayed by three years. Following amendments to the laws, this is for the first time that the people will directly elect their mayors and chairpersons. Two EVMs will be used in each booth, one to elect mayor or chairperson and another for corporator or councillor.

The elections will be held in 3,030 booths across 1,731 Wards in 106 ULBs having over 27 lakh voters. The three municipal corporations have a total of 168 Wards and 1,407 booths. Voters can also choose the none-of-the-above (NOTA) option. The counting of votes will take place on March 26.

The election to the posts of deputy mayor in municipal corporations and vice-chairpersons in ULBs will be held on April 8 and April 7, respectively, the SEC had earlier said through notifications.

(With agency inputs)

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