Reorganisation of wards has added to confusion

Election to Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) came to end, but not without its shares of confusions and minor violence on Wednesday. Utter confusion prevailed in different wards where many people had a difficult time to locate the polling booth. Usually, a day before election, supporters of candidates distribute voting slips which gives prior information about their serial number as well as booth. However, candidates have not reached out to all candidates. The left out voters had no idea where to go.

Reorganisation of BMC wards this election had added to the confusion. The wards had been increased from 60 to 67. During the day, names of many people were showing in Assembly electoral roll, the same was missing in the list meant for BMC election. Around 5 to 10 persons could not cast their votes in BJB Nagar area.

“I have my voter identity card. But there is no mechanism in place for informing people about their booth and serial number,” said Piyush Ranjan Rout, a voter in Ward Number 46.

“We admit there were confusions. Many voters were checking their names in latest electoral roll being updated continuously by Chief Electoral Officer. But we went by referral voter list of July 2013,” said Election officer-cum-additional district magistrate Manoj Kumar Patnaik.

Similarly, on January 6, Biju Patnaik University of Technology (BPUT) issued a notification that all its constituent colleges in Bhubaneswar would remain closed. Ironically, most of colleges are situated outside BMC jurisdiction. So these colleges due to their locations outside BMC area remained opened. It was alleged that many students could not vote as they had to attend their practical classes.

Similarly, chaos prevailed in booths in Ekamra College in Sundarpada area and Biju Patnaik College Jayadev Vihar where a voter complained that vote had already been cast in her name by the time they reached booth. As it threatened to snowball into a major controversy, police acted swiftly and vacated the place. Voting was stopped for a few minutes. Normalcy returned after aggrieved voters were assured of the opportunity of being heard.

In Kharavela Nagar area, two groups fought a pitched battle over trivial issues. Police had to resort to mild lathi charge to disperse trouble mongers. Later Deputy Commissioner of Police Nitinjeet Singh said the two groups had old rivalry and came to blows during voting.