BHUBANESWAR: The BJD and BJP are locked in a direct fight while the Congress is hoping to pull it off as the bypoll to Bijepur assembly seat in Odisha’s Bargarh district will be held on Monday.
The by-election to the politically sensitive constituency in west Odisha was necessitated after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who had won two segments in the assembly polls held early this year, resigned from Bijepur and retained his home turf Hinjili in Ganjam district.
Elaborate arrangements have been made for conducting “free and fair” election in 285 polling stations where 2,32,264 people will exercise their franchise, Odisha’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), S K Lohani said.
129 polling stations have been identified as critical, he said.
Concrete steps have been taken to ensure hassle-free voting in six polling stations, vulnerable to left-wing extremism, he said.
Security personnel are being deployed in the booths to maintain law and order and to ensure smooth polling, a senior police officer said.
Polling will be held from 7 am till 6 pm.
Though there are five candidates in the fray, the contest is mainly between ruling BJD candidate Rita Sahu and BJP’s Sanat Gartia in Bijepur, which was earlier a Congress bastion.
The Congress has fielded its Bargarh district unit vice-president Dillip Kumar Panda, seen as a greenhorn, in the assembly segment.
The high decibel campaign in the constituency came to an end on Saturday evening.
Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik had campaigned in Bijepur for two days on Thursday and Friday for the party’s nominee while Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi hit the campaign trail for saffron party candidate.
Congress campaign, which remained somewhat lacklustre, saw the participation of OPCC President Niranjan Patnaik and party legislators.
However, all political parties, their candidates and cadres have been warned of stringent action if they are found influencing the electorate through money, liquor or gifts, an official said.
Lohani said arrangements have been made for webcasting in 28 polling stations, while CCTVs are fitted in 14 polling stations.
As many as 77 micro-observers have been engaged to monitor the polling process and videography will be done in 16 polling stations, he said.
Most of the polling parties along with police personnel have reached their respective booths, the official said.
The counting of votes will be held on October 24.
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