Odisha: Polling commences for by-poll to Padampur assembly seat

Odisha: Voting began on Monday for by-poll to the Padampur assembly constituency in Odisha's Bargarh district, amid tight security arrangements, an Election Commission official said. Voting began at 7 a.m. in all the 319 polling stations of the rural assembly segment and will continue till 4 p.m., he said.

More than 2.57 lakh voters, including 12 members of the transgender community, are entitled to exercise their franchise in the by-poll.

The by-poll assumes significance in the wake of the BJD's loss in Dhamnagar, its first such defeat since 2009, with many in political circles saying that the outcome would also indicate if electoral scales were tilting against the Naveen Patnaik-led party ahead of the 2024 state elections.

At least 1,400 police personnel and nine companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed for the by-election, the official said. All the entry and exit points of the constituency were sealed as the assembly segment was earlier considered as a Maoist-infested area, he said.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S.K. Lohani of Odisha said, 79 voting locations have been designated as "vital." In 120 polling places, the election will be webcast, and 66 booths will have CCTV cameras.

Women SHGs are responsible for the BJD's electoral victories in Odisha.

There are 15 model booths and six pink ones with female poll workers and security officers. Pick-up and drop-off arrangements have been arranged for voters with physical limitations. The CEO also  stated that "91 micro observers have been engaged in addition to CAPF deployment in relevant locations."

Ten people are running for the by-election. Barsha Singh Bariha, a candidate for the ruling BJD, is the daughter of Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha, whose passing prompted the by-election. Pradip Purohit, a candidate for the opposition BJP, is a former MLA and the party's president of the Krushak Morcha.

Campaigning hits fever pitch in Odisha's Padampur ahead of by-poll. Congress' candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu had won the seat three times earlier.

While Union ministers Narendra Sigh Tomar, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Dharmendra Pradhan, and Bishweswar Tudu campaigned for Purohit, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik supported the BJD candidate. Vote tallying will take place on December 8.

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