Rourkela: Days ahead of the three-tier panchayat polls in Odisha, residents of a tribal-dominated village in Sundergarh district reportedly organised oral and written entrance tests for all the sarpanch candidates to boost their confidence.

The contestants said the exercise was conducted by the villagers of Malupada under Kutra Gram Panchayat in the district, where polling is scheduled to be held in the second phase on February 18.

All the nine aspirants were invited to a public meeting at a local school campus on Thursday, where they were told about the tests, a sarpanch candidate said.

Eight contestants for the sarpanch post turned up at the meeting and sat for the entrance examination that continued till 8 pm, he said.

Some of the test questions were the reasons for contesting the polls, five goals as a sarpanch aspirant, details of involvement in welfare activities, and information about villages and wards in the gram panchayat, another candidate said.

The results will be declared on February 17, he added.

When contacted, Block Development Officer-cum-Block Election Officer Rabinda Sethi said, “There is no official provision for this. I have heard about it, but nobody has lodged any formal complaint yet. If the matter comes up to me, we shall inquire.”

Over 2.79 crore voters are eligible to cast votes in the panchayat polls that will be held in five phases between February 16 and February 24. The counting of votes will take place from February 26-28.

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