Bhubaneswar, November 3, 2020 (Agencies): All arrangements have been put in place to ensure smooth sailing during the byelections to two Assembly seats in Odisha on November 3. Over 4.67 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise between 7am and 6pm in Balasore and Tirtol constituencies for the Odisha bypolls.
The authorities have also taken measures to check the spread of COVID-19 during the polling process, officials said on Monday.
A total of 15 candidates are in the fray, a senior poll official said.
Candidates for Odisha bypolls
Manas Kumar Dutta, son of late MLA Madan Mohan Dutta, was on October 11 declared by the BJP as its candidate for Balasore Sadar seat, while Rajkishore Behera, who had left the Congress recently, has been fielded in Tirtol Assembly segment.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik nominated a former ward councillor, Swarup Kumar Das, as the BJD candidate for Balasore Sadar Assembly constituency for the November 3 bypoll.
Bijay Shankar Das, son of former minister Bishnu Charan Das, has been announced as the party candidate for Tirtol seat.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has approved Mamata Kundu and Himanshu Bhusan Mallick as party candidates for Balasore Sadar seat and Tirtol Assembly segment respectively.
The byelections were necessitated following the demise of BJP MLA Madan Mohan Dutta in Balasore and BJD legislator B.C. Das in Tirtol. Counting of votes is scheduled to take place on November 10.
Social distancing during Odisha bypolls
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, not more than 1,000 voters will be allowed in one booth to ensure physical distance was maintained by them, Odisha Chief Electoral Officer S.K. Lohani said here.
The number of booths in Tirtol, comprising 2,37,282 eligible voters, has been increased from 265 to 373, of which 155 have been identified as critical. Similarly, in Balasore, which has 2,30,297 electorate, as many as 346 polling stations have been set up, and 86 of them were marked critical.
All voters will be provided hand gloves, and each of them would have to sign a register and sanitise hands before casting their votes, Lohani said.
Polling officers, who were found to be fit and healthy, have been deployed to carry out the process, equipped with COVID kits, consisting of face shields, masks and PPEs, he added.
Volunteers deployed for bypolls
Around 3,500 polling personnel, 800 ASHA workers and as many volunteers have been engaged to screen voters with thermal guns before their entry into the booths, the CEO said.
Special arrangements have also been made for transporting people with disabilities to the booths and back home. Wheelchairs have been mobilised for the purpose.
Security has been tightened for smooth conduct of the polls with deployment of six companies of central armed police force, 90 platoons of police and 251 officers.
BJD workers attacked in clash
Two Biju Janata Dal (BJD) workers were critically injured in a clash that erupted as the campaign in the Odisha bypolls ended yesterday.
The BJD has alleged its workers were thrashed by BJP workers today.
According to the inputs, workers of one party barged into a hotel in Chandipur.
The development happened after politicians and journalists of other districts were asked by the police to return after the conclusion of poll campaigning in Balasore Sadar constituency.
Upon finding that a politician of the other party was staying at the Chandipur hotel, the BJP workers registered a complaint with the police, reached the hotel and allegedly created a ruckus.
Police have detained five people in connection with the case and a probe is underway, Balasore Superintendent of police Sudhanshu Mishra said.
Panchayat Samiti member Lokanath Dalei and another person, who has not been identified officially, were critically injured in the clash.
One of the BJD workers was shifted to SCB Hospital in Cuttack, after his condition deteriorated.
Police have been deployed in the area.