Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 21:

The voting trends post the culmination of the five-phase Panchayat polls in Odisha today wiped off the haze around the formation of Zilla Parishad (ZP) councils in the districts.

The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is set to form councils in 16 districts with the addition of four more districts – Balasore, Nuapada, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal after the end of the rural polls today.

At the end of the four rounds, the BJD had won majority in Angul, Bhadrak, Boudh, Cuttack, Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Kendrapada, Khurda, Koraput, Nayagarh and Puri districts paving way for formation of council.

The saffron party which has achieved unprecedented electoral success in the rural polls is set to form Zilla Parishad councils in eight districts. They are Bargarh, Bolangir, Deogarh, Kalahandi, Sambalpur, Sonepur, Mayurbhanj and Malkangiri districts.

Despite the grand old party being decimated and relegated to third position in the rural polls, Congress would form council in the lone district – Jharsuguda.

On the other hand, five districts – Sundargarh, Gajapati, Rayagda, Nuapada and Nabarangpur – are heading for a hung council as no party has got clear majority in these districts in the three-tier panchayat polls.

As per the unofficial figures at the end of all the phases, the BJD got 453 seats, the BJP 313 and the Congress bagged only 65 seats of the 850 ZP zones across the districts.

In the last panchayat polls in 2012, the BJD had won 656, Congress 126 and BJP had won a mere 36 seats of the total 854 Zilla Parishad seats. The saffron party had a stellar run and emerged from no where to make a heavy dent in the BJD and Congress’ vote share.

While some of the BJD leaders blamed in on complacency factor, some attributed it to their star campaigner and party supremo’s last minute campaignings in his home district Ganjam.

The Congress, however, reasoned the infusion of black money and misuse of government machinery for the debacle.

Notably, the official announcement on the results will be made by the State Election Commission (SEC) on February 23 and February 25.