Election to three-tier Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in Odisha will be held in five phases starting from February 16, said State Election Commissioner Aditya Prasad Padhi here on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference here, Padhi said the Panchayat elections will be held in five phases on February 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24 with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols. Counting of votes and declaration of results will be done at Block level on February 26, 27 and 28, he said.
The voters will exercise their franchise from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over 2.79 crore voters are eligible to exercise their franchise to elect 91,913 ward members, 6,794 Sarpanches, 6,793 Panchayat Samiti members and 853 Zilla Parishad members, he Padhi.
As per the schedule, the election officer will issue formal notification for the election on January 13. The interested candidates can file their nominations between January 17 and 21 while scrutiny of the papers will be done on January 22.
Candidates can withdraw their nomination upto January 25 and the final list of candidates will be published on January 25.
Padhi said the in-direct election for the post of Naib Sarpanch, Panchayat Samiti chairperson and Zilla Parishad president will be done on March 11, 12 and 13, respectively.
The election for Panchayat Samiti vice-chairperson and Zilla Parishad vice-president will be conducted on March 23 and 25, he informed.
The model code of conduct issued by the Commission will remain in force from today till February 28 throughout the State, he said.
In view of Covid-19 situation, no election rally, public meeting, road show, Padayatra and procession will be allowed. Only door-to-door campaigns will be allowed with maximum participation of five persons, said Padhi.
The election commissioner has appealed to the political parties and candidates to conduct their campaign as much as possible through digital, virtual or online mode instead of physical mode ensuring strict compliance of Covid safety norms.
He said no victory processes will be allowed. Only fully vaccinated persons with Covid negative report will be allowed into the counting centres. The fully vaccinated officials will only be engaged in polling duty.
Those, who will violate the Covid-19 norms, will be punished as per provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, he warned.
“Taking the prevailing situation into consideration the restrictions may be relaxed or stringent,” he pointed out.
Commenting on a query about opposition’s demand for postponement of the poll, Padhi said, “The elections will be done on time to meet the constitutional obligation. We cannot delay the poll due to Covid-19 situation because there may be another variant of the virus after two or three months.”
Apart from that, the Election Commission of India has also recently announced elections to various State Assemblies, he added.