**Bhubaneswar**: The ‘lotus’ finally bloomed in Odisha as BJP on Monday emerged as a major gainer in the first phase of Panchyat elections.
The saffron party has won all nine ZP seats in Kalahandi district.
In Balasore, of the 10 ZP seats polled, BJD claimed nine and Congress bagged one.
Out of 188 Zilla Parishads seats BJD candidates have won 103 seats, BJP 71 seats, Congress 11 seats and others 3 seats.
According to reports, ruling BJD candidates are leading in maximum places.
It should be noted that out of total 851 ZP seats polled in 2012, BJD grabbed 651, Congress got 126 and BJP managed with 36 seats.
It may be mentioned here that polling was held for electing 189 Zilla Parishad Members in 65 blocks spread over 29 of the 30 districts; 1506 Sarpanchs and Samiti Members; 20,369 Ward Members at 20,369 booths in the first phase.
Earlier in the day, State Election Commissioner (SEC) Rabi Narayan Senapati said that a record 71% voters exercised their franchise on Monday.
Sonepur district recorded highest 84.3% polling while Bolangir witnessed lowest turnout of 60%, the SEC added.