Polling passed off peacefully in the 20 urban local bodies spread across nine western Odisha districts on Friday with around 69 per cent of voters casting their votes.

According to the State Election Commission, the highest of 81 per cent of votes were cast in Kesinga, while the lowest of 55 per cent of voter turnout was recorded in Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district. The counting of votes will be held on Saturday.

A total of 1,102 candidates were in the fray for the post of councillors in 301 wards in the 20 urban local bodies.

While the ruling Biju Janata Dal had fielded candidates in all the 301 wards, the Bharatiya Janata Party had fielded candidates in 268 wards and Congress in 240.

The Congress and BJP had not been able to field candidates in all seats in view of the ‘no court, no vote’ call given by the agitating lawyers, who had been demanding establishment of a permanent bench of the High Court in western Odisha since long.

While Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik had campaigned extensively in the region, Pradesh Congress Committee president Jayadev Jena campaigned in support of his party nominees in several ULBs. The BJP’s campaign was led by party’s State unit president Kanak Vardhan Singh Deo.

The elections in the 20 urban local bodies were held on Friday as the polls in these bodies had been postponed in September this year due to an agitation by the lawyers demanding establishment of a permanent High Court bench in their region.

The BJD had performed well in the elections that were held in as many as 66 urban local bodies on September 19. While BJD had secured a majority in as many as 41 ULBs, the Congress had managed to secure majority in 10 civic bodies. The BJP had failed to secure a majority in any of the 66 ULBs.

Although Congress and BJP were hopeful of winning majority in many places, the BJD too was confident of securing majority in several ULBs as the State government had already recommended to the Centre for establishment of a permanent High Court bench in western Odisha.