Shivaratri tells upon turnout

THE DAY AFTER THE VIGIL: Not many voters at a polling booth in Nimakhandi panchayat on the outskirts of Berhampur on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: Photo: Lingaraj Panda

Staff Reporter

At two booths for Nimakhandi panchayat only 45 persons vote till 10.30 am

Worried candidates use vehicles to carry voters to polling boothsThird phase poll peaceful in Ganjam district

BERHAMPUR: Night-long worship of Lord Shiva for Shivaratri resulted in low voter turnout during early hours of third phase of panchayat polls on Saturday.

At the two polling booths for Nimakhandi panchayat at Brajanagar primary school only 45 voters voted till 10.30 am although the voting process started at 7 am. Worried candidates used vehicles to carry the voters to the polling booths as the voting ended at noon.

Irony was that this occurred at booths at a distance of a few hundred metres from city limits while carrying voters by vehicles is a rarity in extreme rural areas during recent panchyat polls.

Namita Rout, a voter, said the day following Shivratri was usually a day of rest after a sleepless night of Shiva worship and family members wake up late. But the panchayat voting process starts early morning.

Lack of interest

For most people a few hours of sleep in the morning was more important than the panchayat polls. Even most of the small shops in rural areas did not open till 10 am.

There was lack of interest for voting at the urban outgrowths of the city which are still under panchayat limits. Aditya Patnaik of the Congress said it was very hard to coax the voters from Bank Colony, Kharvela Nagar, Braja Nagar areas of Nimakhandi panchayat to come and vote in panchayat elections.

"These inhabitants mentally consider themselves part of urban Berhampur and have little interest in the panchayat polls", said Jagadananda Das of the BJD.

Third phase panchayat polls was peaceful in Ganjam district. Voters of 102 panchyats under 15 zilla parishad zones of five blocks took part in the voting on Friday.

Naxal-prone zilla parishad zones in Mohana, R. Udaygiri, Rayagada blocks of Gajapati district also had third phase panchayat polls without any law and order situation.

Naxals had earlier given call for poll boycott in these areas through posters and pamphlets. Polling was also peaceful in five zilla parishad zones under three blocks of Kandhamal district, which went to polls on Friday.