Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 22: 

A day after the nomination withdrawal phase came to an end for Odisha panchayat polls, State Election Commission (SEC) today said that out of 2,20,789 nominations filed for the polls, a total of 1,89,099 candidates remain in fray.

According to SEC Secretary Rabindra Nath Sahu, out of the 2,20,789 nominations received, 13,606 were rejected on January 19 during scrutiny and 2,07,183 candidates were deemed eligible.

Polls have been postponed in 18 panchayats including nine in cut-off area and two zilla parishad zones in Malkangiri district. Out of the remaining eligible nominations, 17,616 candidates have withdrawn their papers.

“We have 26,539 candidates for sarpanch posts whereas there are 22,109 candidates competing for panchayat samiti sabhya posts. For zilla parishad, there are 3,288 candidates while 1,37,163 are contesting for ward member,” said Sahu.

The overall number of contestants is also likely to change once the nominations are filed, scrutinised and unwilling candidates withdraw their nomination between January 27 and February 4 – in places where either no nomination was filed or all the nominations were rejected following scrutinisation.

Meanwhile, campaign for the polls today started in full swing. While BJD and BJP had already submitted their star campaigner lists, Congress announced its list today.

Campaigning will continue till 7 PM of February 11 and will end before 36 hours of polling on February 13.

The general poll observers and expenditure observers have also been deployed. The expenditure observers have been tasked with educating poll candidates on maintaining accounts and register the poll expenses so that it can be examined in future.

According to the panchayat poll schedule announced by SEC Secretary Rabindranath Sahu earlier, voting will be conducted in five phases on February 13, 15, 17, 19 and 21 in a block-wise pattern. Casting of votes would take place from 7 am to 12 noon and counting of votes will be done from 1 pm onwards on these days.

The zilla parishad zone voting in the blocks across the state, barring three blocks, will be conducted in the same day. Voting in Pattamundai block under Kendrapara district and in Kolnara block under Rayagada district will be held in two phases on separate dates while polling for two zilla parishad seats under Chitrakonda block has been postponed due to security threats.

The elections will be held for the posts of 851 Zilla Parishad Members in which 2,60,92,507 voters will decide the fate of the candidates.