Odishatv Bureau

Voting for the long-overdue bypoll to Pipili assembly constituency in Puri district finally concluded today. A voter turnout of 68.40 per cent was recorded till 5 pm.

Long queues of voters were seen in front of booths across the constituency. Wearing masks on their faces and holding ID cards in their hands, the electorates exercised their franchise. 

As per the Covid-19 guidelines, the voters underwent thermal screening and given gloves. Maintaining social distancing, they entered the booths and cast their votes over EVMs. 

A total of 348 including 20 model booths were set up for the voting and casting of votes continued from 7 am to 6 pm. However, the voting process was disrupted for sometime at four booths due to malfunctioning of EVMs.         

“There are many issues in our constituency. We have voted to the person who, we think, is able to do all-round development of our area,” said a resident after casting his vote. 

“We are excited that we will pick a new leader who will carry out development of our region,” said a girl. 

Briefing about the voting, Chief Electoral Officer of Odisha, Sushil Kumar Lohani said, “During mock poll, we found glitches in a few EVMs accordingly two ballot units, two control units and 12 VVPATs were replaced. Subsequently, polling began and it passed off peacefully. No law and order issue was reported. This time, 20 model booths were set up.”

Candidates of three major parties- BJP, BJD and Congress- and others in fray cast their votes during the polling. BJP’s Ashrit Pattanayak cast his vote at Kamakantia booth of Chandradeipur while BJD’s Rudra Pratap Maharathy exercised his franchise at Panidalapur. Similarly, Congress candidate Bishwokeshan Harichandan Mohapatra cast his vote at booth No 5 at Jharpada village under Rengal panchayat.

All the candidates expressed confident about their victory in the bypoll which was necessitated by the death of sitting MLA Pradeep Maharathy in October last year. 

The bypoll postponed twice- firstly after the demise of Congress candidate Ajit Mangaraj and for the second time in the wake of the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.