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Vikash Sharma

The counting of votes for the Pipili bypoll has begun amidst tight security arrangements. The high-voltage by-election to the Assembly Constituency in Odisha's Puri district was was held on September 30. A voter turnout of 78 per cent was recorded at 348 booths in the by-election, official sources said.

As per senior officials, the counting of votes began at 8 am today amid strict Covid-19 protocols. Counting of Postal ballots will be done for the first 30 minutes while the counting session for the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) is scheduled to start from 8.30 am.

As many as 14 tables in three halls has been used for the counting of votes. A three-tier security arrangement has been made around the counting centre to prevent any untoward incident during the counting process to ensure smooth and error-free counting of votes.

“Only authorised personnel and others are being allowed inside the counting halls. As per guidelines, the EVMs were taken to the counting halls amidst tight security. Mobile phones have been completely banned and we will take strict legal action for any violation,” said Puri SP, Kanwar Vishal Singh.

Singh informed that adequate police force has been deployed at various parts of the district and special steps have been taken to maintain law and order in vulnerable pockets.

It is pertinent to mention here that the by-election was necessitated following the death of sitting BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy in October 2020. Subsequently, the ruling party pitted Maharathy's son Rudrapratap Maharathy.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) had countermanded or deferred polling thrice due to various reasons. The by-poll was initially scheduled for April 17 but rescheduled to May 16 after the death of Congress candidate Ajit Mangaraj due to Covid-19.

The by-election was deferred further due to the second wave of the Covid pandemic. BJD roped in Rudrapratap against BJP’s Ashrit Patnaik and Congress’ Biswakesan Harichandan Mohapatra.

(Edited By Pradeep Singh)

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