Bijepur Battle: Voting Concludes, 72 % Turnout Recorded

Bhubaneswar: Barely five months after exercising their franchise in the general elections, people of Bijepur witnessed yet another bypoll today. However, it wasn’t much of a deterrent for anyone as a large number of people on Monday turned out at the polling booths for the crucial Bijepur battle.

Enthusiasm was written large on the faces of voters as they queued up at 285 polling booths since morning 7 AM today. Lochana Naik, a Centenarian who arrived in a wheelchair to cast her vote in Barpali, is a testimony of this. Special arrangements were made by the administration for elderly and Divyang voters.

Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) informed that 72 % voter turnout was recorded till 5 pm today. The overall figure may increase when the final figure comes out, sources said.

Polling was also conducted peacefully in all the six booths under Maoist infested areas of Gailsilat block.

“Voting was held peacefully and no violence has been reported from any booth. After polling began, glitches were detected in only one VVPAT machine,” said Chief Electoral Officer Sushil Kumar Lohani.

The fate of three prominent candidates- BJD’s Rita Sahu, BJP’s Sanat Gartia and Congress’ Dilip Panda has now been sealed in the Electronic Voting Machines.

Even as the by-election concluded, senior Congress leader Tara Prasad Bahinipati maintained that the party is unlikely to perform well in the bypoll. “The way BJD and BJP have spent on the Bijepur bypoll, Congress is nowhere in the picture as PCC president allotted Rs 20 lakh as expenses,” said Bahinipati.

BJP and BJD, on the other hand, claimed that their respective candidates will win the Bijepur bypoll.

“The way CM Naveen Patnaik betrayed the people of Bijepur by giving them false promises, we are sure BJP will do well in the byelection,” said BJP spokesperson, Golak Mohapatra.

BJD’s Sameer Dash said party’s Rita Sahu will emerge victorious by a good margin.

It is pertinent to mention here that the by-election was necessitated after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who had won two segments in the 2019 Assembly polls, vacated Bijepur and retained Hinjili in Ganjam district.