BHUBANESWAR: All arrangements are in place for the Bijepur assembly constituency to go for a byelection on Monday, the third election in the past 20 months.
More than 2.32 lakh voters, including 1.12 lakh women and 15 belonging to the third gender, will exercise their franchise across 285 polling stations in the constituency today to decide the fate of the five candidates, including a woman, in the fray.
Apart from three companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), about 33 platoons of police force have been mobilized to ensure smooth and peaceful polling.
The Election Commission of India has identified 129 critical polling stations, while six booths in the Left-wing extremism-affected areas under the constituency have been identified as vulnerable ones.
"The polling parties have reached their respective polling stations. Voting would be conducted from 7am till 5pm. Preparations have been made for the smooth conduct of voting," Bargarh district collector Jyoti Ranjan Pradhan said.
After campaigning ended on Saturday, candidates of all the three parties on Sunday discussed the voter mobilization plan with their supporters. BJD candidate Rita Sahu, BJP's Sanat Gartia and Congress candidate Dilip Kumar Panda exuded confidence of doing well in the byelection.
The bypolls was necessitated after chief minister Naveen Patnaik 's vacated the seat on winning from both his home turf Hinjili and Bijepur. The ruling BJD has thrown all its weight behind Bijepur to retain the seat with a considerable margin.
Unfazed by the opposition's allegation of Naveen betraying Bijepur voters by vacating the seat, the ruling party said the development of the constituency would be directly monitored by the chief minister. Though the results of the byelection will not make much of a difference to BJD, the regional party had roped in more than 30 senior leaders to manage the campaign for their candidate. Besides, chief minister Naveen Patnaik campaigned for two days in the constituency with a night stay at Bargarh.
"Our aim is to win the seat by a margin of 40,000 to 50,000 votes. Besides managing the dissident factions within the party, the ruling BJD also managed to gain the support of the disgruntled local leaders in other parties as well," a BJD leader, in-charge of Bijepur byelection , said.