Over 69 per cent polling was registered in the by-election to Brajrajnagar assembly segment in Odisha’s Jharsuguda district, where voting was largely “incident-free” on Tuesday, Chief Electoral Officer SK Lohani said. The polling, being conducted through EVMs, began at 7 am and was scheduled to end at 6 pm.
The final polling percentage would be revealed later, Lohani stated. “Voting continued beyond 6 pm in some places as several people had been waiting for their turn in queues. We can give the final voting percentage only after officials return from booths,” Lohani said, adding that polling took a hit between 3-4 pm due to thundershowers.
Lohani also said that elections were conducted amid strict adherence to COVID-19 norms. “Three ballot units, three control units and 4 VVPATs had to be replaced in parts of the constituency due to technical glitches. The voting process was monitored live in 50 per cent of the 279 booths with the help of web-casting facilities,” he noted.
More than two lakh people were eligible to exercise their franchise for the by-election, which was necessitated following the demise of BJD MLA Kishore Mohanty in December last year. At least 1,000 state police personnel and three companies of central paramilitary force were deployed for facilitating free and fair elections, the officials said.
A total of 60 polling booths were identified as “sensitive”, where additional security arrangements had to be made, they said. Although eleven candidates were in the fray, the constituency predominantly witnessed a triangular fight among BJD, BJP and Congress nominees.
The BJD fielded the deceased MLA’s wife, Alaka Mohanty, as its candidate, while the BJP nominated former legislator Radharani Panda. Ex-assembly speaker Kishore Patel contested the by-election on a Congress ticket.