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Pradeep Pattanayak

Amid the politics over OBC reservations, the State Election Commission of Odisha issued election symbols for the upcoming Panchayat polls on Thursday. The candidates will contest the elections using the symbols assigned to them. 

Since the candidates contesting for Ward members, Samiti members and Sarpanchs can’t use party symbols, the alternative symbols have been finalized. As many as 15 symbols have been allotted for Ward member contestants. Similarly, for the candidates who will fight for Sarpanch posts, 32 symbols have been issued. For Samiti member posts, 19 symbols have been issued. 

However, the candidates who will vie for Zilla Parishad member posts can contest with party’s symbols. The independent candidates will choose from among 19 symbols like ‘bed’, ‘boy’, ‘girl’, ‘bucket’ etc. issued by the Odisha State Election Commission. 

This year, a total of 2,79,00,000 voters will exercise their franchise in these elections.

Meanwhile, the State Election Commissioner of Odisha Aditya Prasad Padhi said restrictions will be imposed during the election period keeping the Covid-19 situation in view.     
“Once the candidates’ lists are finalized, their names will be arranged in order of Odia alphabets and then the symbols will be allotted,” informed Padhi. 

“If one symbol was issued for all the posts, it would create a lot of confusion among the voters,” observed a Sarpanch aspirant Suryakant Behera. 

Meanwhile, the Congress and BJP demanded that the elections be conducted only after making reservation for OBCs. The Congress said it will take shelter of law.  
“We will intensify our strike if the government doesn’t give reservation to OBCs. Agitations would be staged at each district headquarters by January 3 and then it will be held at the State level,” said State president, BJP’s OBC Morcha Surath Biswal. 

Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja said, “The government should call for immediate Assembly session and pass a resolution to the effect of 27 percent reservation to OBCs with consensus from all parties. Otherwise, we will take shelter in law.”

Urging the Opposition parties to refrain from making politics over the issue, BJD MLA Pramila Mallick said the government is preparing for the elections by following the Orissa High Court’s direction.

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