Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, April 11:
Congress candidates in fray for the second phase polls in Odisha are mighty angry and upset over the manner in which the state party leadership is running the party campaign.
After the completion of the first phase polls, the focus has shifted to the coastal zone,the strongest bastion of the ruling BJD which had made a clean sweep in 2009 elections by capturing 69 of the 77 Assembly seats and 10 of the 11 Lok Sabha seats.
The Congress candidates who have been waiting for star campaigners to help them put up a good show at the hustings are unhappy with the attitude of the state party leaders who are yet to help them in this regard. They are worried because the BJP and the ruling BJD have already intensified their campaigning by roping in several star campaigners.
The Congress candidates are peeved over the way the party has scheduled election meetings of the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Odisha.
“Why should Sonia Gandhi be addressing a rally in Baleswar ? Union minister Srikant Jena who is party’s Lok Sabha candidate there, is the chief of the campaign committee for Odisha Congress and should be taking care of himself. He should be addressing rallies at various places to help the party’s Assembly candidates but he hasn’t been doing that. Instead, he has now invited Mrs Gandhi to campaign for him. Doesn’t this show how the party is going to perform in the elections ?” said an angry Congress candidate in Jajpur district.
Sonia Gandhi has already addressed a rally in Baleswar and will address another in Baripada today. Rahul Gandhi will address another rally at Jagatsinghpur on April 14.
Rahul has so far addressed public meetings at Semiliguda in Koraput district and Umerkote in Nabarangpur district on March 31. Similarly, party president Sonia Gandhi had addressed one meeting at Khariar on April 5
While BJD supremo and chief minister Naveen Patnaik is the chief star campaigner for the BJD, the party has roped in several cine stars including Anubhav Mohanty, Mihir Mohanty, Satyaki Mishra and the veteran Mahasweta Ray who are attracting good crowd wherever they are campaigning.
Congress has already fielded two popular film stars – Bijaya Mohanty and Aparajita Mohanty- in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack respectively and they are too tied up with their own campaigning in the two tough constituencies. Film star Babusan, son of Uttam and Aparajita Mohanty is doing his bit but in a limited manner
A number of senior leaders of the party who have some star value have also not been given any specific instructions by the state leadership on where to campaign during the second phase polls.
Fearing defeat, the Congress candidates are now demanding more meetings of Rahul and Sonia in the state to counter the impact delivered by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi who had addressed four rallies in the first phase and is addressing three rallies in Baleswar, Keonjhar and Talcher today.
“Mrs Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have addressed rallies for the senior leaders. What about other Congress candidates fighting difficult battles in other Lok Sabha and Assembly seats ? We need Sonia Madam and Rahul Gandhi to come and support us,” said a party Lok Sabha candidate.
“There were supposed to be around 40 leaders in the list of star campaigners for Odisha, but except Sonia and Rahul, where are the others, ” asked the leader.