70 per cent polling in second phase

Bhubaneswar: The second phase of polling for the three-tier panchayat institutions today ended peacefully in polling booths spread across 83 blocks in 30 districts barring few incidents of loots of ballot boxes and snatching of ballot papers. The average polling percentage stood at 69. 93 while it was about 83 per cent in Suvarnapur, the highest in the state. Polling was affected in 25 booths in several districts.

The BJD zilla parishad candidate of zone number seven in Titlagarh of Bolangir, Bhaktaram Majhi was seriously injured in an attack. The police has arrested one Subhra Dash and an accomplice in this connection while Bhaktaram was admitted to the district headquarter hospital in a critical condition.

Polling began at six in the morning as per schedule which was to end at 12 O` clock. However, voting continued after the scheduled hour as long queues were witnessed outside several booths in the state. A total number of 56,54,569 voters were to elect sarpanches, panchayat samiti members, ward members and zilla parishad representatives for 197 zones spread across 30 districts.

According to reports, miscreants looted five ballot boxes from booth number 2 and 13 in Bandhkatia panchayat under Nischintakoili block of Cuttack district and set fire to the ballot boxes at village Harirajpur. Heavy police bandobust was made to control the situation. Likewise, polling was cancelled in ward number five under Bandhadhia panchayat under Rasulpur block in Jajpur district after miscreants snatched away ballot papers.

The second phase of polling too witnessed empty booths in several parts of the state as voters boycotted the elections to lodge protest against government apathy and under development. About 600 voters of four villages under Pikaradi panchayat in Tikabali block of Kondhmal district boycotted did not exercise their franchise. The voters complained that the government never paid any heed to their demand for inclusion in Kalinga panchayat instead of the Pikaradi panchayat.

Likewise, there was poll boycott by the villagers of Ajeyagarh panchayat under Gumma block in Gajapati district. Eleven booths witnessed complete poll boycott. The Dora community in Koraput stayed away from voting while the voters of Kataraamba under Dasmantpur block did not cast votes. In the coastal district of Balasore, the voters of ward number under Barutasingh panchayat of Remuna block today staged dharna in front of the booth and did not utilise their democratic rights in protest against the non-construction of the village road for several years. Aside from a few stray incidents polling was by and large peaceful.