Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 22: 

After weeks of speculation, calculation and a much delay, more than 10 days after rival BJD and BJP announced their star campaigner lists, Odisha unit of Congress today announced its 40-member star campaigner list for panchayat polls.

The party has included 40 names – the maximum a registered party can announce — in its star campaigners list that features mostly veteran politicians, few young leaders and a sole entertainer.

They will tour across the state to campaign for Congress supported candidates — in the fray for panchayat and zilla parishad polls.

According to a press notification issued by the party this evening, Odisha Congress In-charge BK Hariprasad, PCC President Prasad Harichandan, AICC Secretary Subhankar Sarkar, former Chief Minister Hemenand Biswal, four former presidents including KP Singh Deo, Niranjan Patnaik, Jayadev Jena and Sarat Patnaik have been made part of the list.

The list also includes six MLAs: CLP leader Narasingha Mishra, Chiranjib Biswal, Tara Prasad Bahinipati, Naba Das, Jacob Pradhan, Krushna Sagaria and former MLA Arun Dey.

Among other prominent names are: former union ministers: Kanhu Charan Lenka, Srikant Jena, Bhakta Charan Das and Chandrasekhar Sahu, former state government ministers: Sarat Rout, Bijayalaxmi Sahu, Judhistir Jena and Ganeswar Behera, former CLP leaders: Ramakanta Mishra and Surendra Bhoi, MP Ranjib Biswal, former MPs: Ramachandra Khuntia, Sushila Tiria and Pradeep Majhi.

The star campaigner list also features several leaders tasked with organisational duties including PCC Media Department Chairman Kailash Acharya, OPMCC President Sashmita Behera, PYC Working President Loknath Maharathy, Odisha NSUI president Itish Pradhan, KKMC Chairman Amiya Patnaik, OPCC Vice President Sandhya Mohapatra, OPCC General Secretary Sulochana Das, and Lalitendu Mohapatra — younger brother of former Brahmagiri MLA Lalatendu Bidyadhar Mohapatra (Lulu).

Further, Congress has included two social activists: Keshamati Pradhan – a rights activist and an anti-liquor campaigner from Kandhamal district and Rahul Naik — whose parents were killed in an alleged police encounter in the same district in the star campaigner list of the party, as we reported earlier.

The party also has roped in popular singer Narendra Kumar to draw crowds to its rallies.