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Odisha BJP upbeat about Kandhamal bypoll

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Sep 13:

After a prolonged bout over scams and corruption cases, the three major political parties in Odisha are gradually turning their focus to the by-election for the Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency scheduled to be held on October 15.

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The by-poll is necessitated following the death of sitting MP Hemendra Singh (BJD) recently.

All three parties – Congress, BJP and BJD – have begun the exercise to zero in on their candidates for the polls. While the ruling BJD is suffering from its worst ever image crisis in the wake of a procession of scams embarrassing the government and chief minister Naveen Patnaik, the infighting within the Congress, which cost it dearly in the last election, has shown no sign of abating any time soon.

The BJP may lack organisational strength in the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat, but it is riding on the Narendra Modi wave and is hopeful of securing the seat. The party got a sizeable number of votes in the last two elections though it could not win the seat.

The BJP also beleives that the fact that two leaders from the state – Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan – are central ministers will have an impact on people.

“It would be different compared to the last elections. Out party is in power at the Centre and the Narendra Modi government is giving good governance to people. On the other hand, the BJD government in the state is completely mired with corruption and scams. Now, people have come to know that the ruling party leaders are directly involved in the scams,” said state BJP president KV Singhdeo.

The saffron party, which has already started the process to strengthen the party in the state, is going to hold its state executive members meeting on September 21 to be attended by Union ministers Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan and Odisha in-charge Arun Singh. The party would chalk out a strategy to grab the seat at the meeting.

Notwithstanding the unending infighting, the Congress too hopes to perform better. “There is no prospect of BJD this time as people are showing their anger against the government. While the CBI inquiry is exposing the dubious role of BJD leaders, the recent land scams have fueled dissatisfaction,” said PCC president Jaydev Jena.

However, the BJD claims that it has still the ace and is banking on the charisma of Naveen Patnaik to turn the tables on its opponents. “The state government has always been with the people and they have showered their blessings on the party. We have initiated many schemes for the people,” said Amar Satapahty, BJD spokesperson.

The speculation is high that the ruling party may nominate Hemandra’s wife Kunwarini Pratyusha for the seat, to gain sympathy votes.

Five months back, the BJD had won the seat with 4,21,458 votes against 2,40,441 polled by its nearest Congress rival Harihar Karan. BJP had come a distant third.