Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Sep 29:
The by-election for the Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat in Odisha has taken an interesting turn with the opposition Congress and BJP deciding to raise the issue of the ‘foreign origin’ of BJD candidate Pratyusha Rajeswari, who hails from a royal family in Nepal, during campaigning.
Pratyusha is the widow of Hemendra Singh, whose death necessitated the polls.
“Foreign origin is an issue and there is nothing wrong if the BJP highlights it in this election. The BJD candidate does not know Odia since she belongs to Nepal. In which language would she communicate with the people and beg for their vote?” asked senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra.
He said that all the BJD leaders, who have camped in the Parliamentary constituency, are neck-deep in corruption and the people would reject them wholesale in the elections.
Interestingly, the Congress, which in the past had to contend with the ‘foreign origin’ issue in respect of party president Sonia Gandhi, too has decided to jump on to the bandwagon in a desperate bid to garner votes, especially those of the dalits and tribals.
“We can call her a complete foreigner. She is not an Indian national by birth and is a completely new face for the voters as she resides in Nayagarh. On the other hand, Congress candidate Abhimanyu Behara is a local man and knows everything about the constituency. The people are accepting him,” said PCC president Jaydev Jena.
As expected, the ruling BJD pooh-poohed the opposition strategy and said the issue would have no impact on the voters as the party believes in development.
“Pratyusha does speak Odia. She does not have problem speaking the language. We will go to the people with development the language as they know that BJD means development,” said senior BJD leader and School and Mass Education minister Debi Mishra.