Patkura Poll: Stage set for counting of votes tomorrow

Kendrapara: After polling concluded with a record 72.75 per cent voter turnout in the election to Patkura Assembly constituency held on Saturday, the counting of votes will be conducted tomorrow amid tight security followed by the declaration of result.

According to State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Surendra Kumar, as many as 18 counters have been set up for the counting of votes over 18 different rounds. The result of Patkura Assembly poll is likely to be announced faster because of the more rounds of vote counting, said sources.

After the polling, all the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and VVPATs have been kept in the strong room at Kendrapara Autonomous College in the district. The administration has put the strong room under three-tier security of Central Paramilitary Forces, Odisha State Armed forces and district police along with round-the-clock CCTV surveillance.

The district administration, as per the Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines, recently called a meeting of agents of all political parties to apprise them of the security measures put in place at the strong room.

As per data of the Election Commission, an estimated 72.75 per cent of the over 2.44 lakh voters exercised their franchise to elect their leader in Patkura.

While there are 10 candidates in the fray, it is likely to be a straight fight between the BJD’s Sabitri Agarwalla and BJP candidate Bijoy Mohapatra.

District Collector of Kendrapara, Samarth Verma, said, “There will be 17 rounds of counting for 309 booths and the process is expected to end by 1:30 to 2:00 PM.”

Speaking about the security arrangements, Kendrapara SP, Niti Sekhar, said, “We are ensuring proper security arrangement at the counting booths. Only agents and official staff will be allowed to stay during the counting process.”

While BJD is confident of registering victory from the constituency, BJP too thinks that it will come out with flying colours. However, Congress leaders feel that their party will not perform well in the constituency.

“People of Patkura have already decided that they will choose Naveen Patnaik for the sake of development,” BJD MLA, Debiprasad Mishra, said.

BJP leader Pradipta Naik said that they are confident about party’s victory. “The difference may remain around 100 to 200 votes but we will win for sure. Naveen babu is thinking of a victory with a margin of 20,000 votes but it will never come true.”

“We don’t think that we are in a good position at Patkura assembly constituency,” said Congress MLA, Tara Bahinipati.