Bhubaneswar: In what could be a real threat to the ruling BJD in the 2019 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claimed 64 Zilla Parishad (ZP) seats in the first phase of the Panchayat polls which concluded on Monday. While BJD won 94 seats, 11 seats went in favour of Opposition Congress. Five seats were won by other parties.
Results of 14 seats were not available till the last reports came in.
In Kalahandi district, the saffron party made a clean sweep by winning all the nine ZP seats. While in Ganjam district the ruling party won 12 of the 16 ZP seats, in Balasore district, nine of the 10 seats were claimed by the ruling party and the lone went for Congress.
Mentionably, in the last panchayat elections in 2012, out of the total 851 ZP seats, the BJD had grabbed the highest 651 seats, while Congress got 126 seats and BJP managed with 36 seats. The remaining seats went to JMM (11), CPI (2), CPI (M) 1 and independent (22).
The first phase polling was held in 188 Zilla Parishad (ZP) seats spread over 65 blocks in 29 districts where 716 candidates are contesting. Elections were also contested for 1,506 Sarpanch and Samiti member posts. Officials said there are 853 ZP seats in the State of which elections will be held for 848 seats while there will be no elections in five seats due to various reasons.
On Monday, at least 71 per cent of the 58,28,446 voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of the three-tire poll which was by and large peaceful barring some stray incidents of violence which left at least four persons injured.
"So far, we have received information about 71 per cent polling in the first of the five phased panchayat elections. While Sonepur district recorded the highest 84.3% turnout, Bolangir district had the lowest 60% turnout. The polling were by and large peaceful barring some stray incidents," State Election Commissioner (SEC) Rabi Narayan Senapati told reporters.