Campaigning for Bijepur by-poll gathers momentum

State

Bargarh, Feb 17

Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, PCC chief Prasad Harichandan, BJD MLA Rasheswari Panigrahi and BJD women wing chief Pramila Mallick made intensive campaign for the nominees of their respective parties for the February 24 by-election in Bijepur constituency in Bargarh district.

Oram, addressing election rallies, criticized the BJD government in State saying that it had failed on all fronts.

“The people of Bijepur constituency have decided to vote for the BJP as they are convinced of the sincerity of the NDA government at Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the Union Minister added.

PCC chief Prasad Harichandan said, “Both BJP and BJD could not find a local candidate for the election. They have borrowed their nominees from other parties to seek votes. However, they will not succeed in motivating the voters who have reposed faith with the Congress in the past three elections.”

Panigrahi on the other hand exuded confidence about BJD nominee’s victory.

She said, the love for Sahu family (late Subal Sahoo whose wife Rita Sahoo is BJD nominee) and popularity of BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will ensure BJD’s victory. “Both Congress and BJP will be frustrated after the election results are announced,” she said adding, “Bijepur people are with development.”

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has rescheduled his campaigning in the constituency. He will campaign now for two days from February 20, said BJD sources. BJP is roping in Union Minister Giriraj Singh and Smruti Irani for campaigning on February 19.

All the three major political parties in Odisha  – the ruling BJD, Opposition Congress and BJP – have intensified their campaign in the constituency, adds Tathya news agency. The BJD which has fielded the widow of former MLA Subal Sahu’s widow Rita Sahu and of late realizes that only sympathy vote may not be enough to win the elections while BJP has been chasing the ruling party day in and day out.

The BJP has fielded former BJD MLA Ashok Panigrahi, who is a strong organizer in Bijepur.

The BJP’s advantage is that the saffron party has got a strong candidate and delay in conduct of by-polls has facilitated it to organize properly in the assembly segment.

The BJP got enough time to put its people in nook and corner of the segment and therefore in a position to give a better fight to the fast running Naveen Patnaik’s team.

The Congress, which has been a winner in Bijepur for three consecutive times, has however, picked up a better candidate, but lacks the organization backing as well as funds required to face the mighty BJD and formidable BJP.

Congress candidate Pranaya Sahu has been going door to door and not that wealthy to face the challenge. The oldest political party has no star campaigner like its counterparts and Pranaya Sahu appears to be fighting a lone battle in the calculated backing from different fraction leaders like Niranjan Patnaik, Jaydev Jena and Srikant Jena though Naba Das and others too work for him. Pranaya Sahu has been working silently without much publicity unlike Rita Sahu or Ashok Panigrahi.

While Odia cinema stars like Maheswata Ray, Mihir Das and other members from silver screen have been campaigning for BJP candidate, Matinee  idols like Anubhab Mohanty, Arindam and Siddhant Mohapatra seek vote for BJD candidate. The Congress has no cine stars to glamourize campaigning.

The ruling BJD has, however, certain advantage.

When BJD leaders go for campaigning to villages, people show them roads, drinking water problems and other backwardness.

The BJD leaders, mostly ministers, MPs, MLAs and others, assure the people that development will certainly take place if the BJD is voted on February 24.

People have also set conditions such as development of roads, bridges, irrigation, jobs and market for weavers.

The BJD leaders promise moon if they vote for Rita Sahu this time.

The BJP has been highlighting failure of the State government, Kunduli rape case and Sambalpur custodial death.

BJP has so far brought national leaders like Dharmendra Pradhan, Santosh Gangwar and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti to campaign for Panigrahi.

Naveen Patnaik has exuded confidence that the BJD candidate will win the by-poll with a good margin. But, the BJD leaders face a specific problem that they are being chased by BJP people in every village and every hamlet. The BJD leaders are worried over the presence of BJP in all places and absence of Congress everywhere.

According to sources, the BJD feels that they will gain if the Congress candidate gets more votes. Bijepur assembly segment has three blocks like Bijepur, Barpali and Gaisilat besides Barpali NAC area.

While Pranaya Sahu appeared to be in a commanding position in Gaisilat block for being the son of the soil, the BJD and BJP candidates are concentrating on two other blocks like Bijepur and Barpali. Therefore, the people of Barpali NAC area may be the deciding factor, political observers say.

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