Polling Begins In Padampur: How Close Will Be The Fight This Time?

Bargarh: Voters queued up at 319 booths of Padampur Assembly constituency in Odisha’s Bargarh district from 7 am on Monday to seal the fate of 10 candidates, including BJD’s Barsha Singh Bariha, BJP’s Pradip Purohit and Congress’ Satya Bhusan Sahu.

Polling will continue till 4 pm amid tight security arrangements. At least 1,400 police personnel and nine companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed.

A total of 2,57,474 voters (1,29,497 males, 1,27,965 females and 12 transgenders) are expected to exercise their franchise in the by-election, where 79 polling booths have been identified as ‘critical’. Webcasting of the polling process is on in 120 booths, while 66 are under CCTV surveillance. There are 15 model booths and six pink ones, which have women security personnel and polling officials. Pick-up and drop arrangements have been made for voters with physical disabilities.

Besides, 91 micro observers have been engaged along with CAPF deployment in appropriate locations.

The assembly seat fell vacant on October 3, 2022, due to the untimely demise of Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha.

The by-election assumes significance for BJD after Dhamnagar debacle, its first such defeat since 2009, and the result is likely to indicate if electoral scales were tilting against the Naveen Patnaik-led party ahead of the 2024 state elections.

To ensure the party’s victory, Naveen flew to Bargarh to seek votes for the BJD candidate his first in-person campaign in three years. Union ministers Narendra Sigh Tomar, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Dharmendra Pradhan and Bishweswar Tudu canvassed for Purohit. Votes will be counted on December 8.

Padampur saw very closely fought elections in 2014 and 2019. Bariha won the 2019 elections by 5,734 votes while Purohit won by 4,513 votes in 2014. In 2019 and 2014, Congress got 32,787 and 31,179 votes. These votes of Congress will determine who will win this by-election.

Sahu had won the seat three times earlier.

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