Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 6:
With the high-decibel campaign coming to an end yesterday and over 1.5 lakh voters all set to cast their franchise for the eight urban local bodies (ULBs) in Odisha which will go to polls tomorrow, splinter groups of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) are likely to turn the fortunes against it and dent the prospects of the party in the polls.
While the BJD is aware of the brewing resentment among party workers over the selection of candidates, it is confident that it would win over the dissidents and form councils in all the ULBs.
Sources said fissures within the party are widening as the BJD has shortlisted candidates without taking the party’s local units and organisation at the grassroots level into confidence, which is likely to have its effect in the polls.
The BJD had thrown its celebrity pool into the campaign trail to garner maximum political mileage out of it. However, the relatively inexperienced air-dropped politicians’ poll promises have bewildered the electors as local issues dominate in the civic polls.
The BJD is seemingly taking this ULB poll as the semi-final to the 2017 panchayat polls in the state. Coincidentally, the ULBs going to polls are geographically spread out across almost all the zones of the state viz: coastal, western, interior and south.
Many perceive that the mega chit fund scam and other scams have had its impact on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s ‘clean image’. The outcome of the polls would give an overall impression of Patnaik’s popularity in the state, poll pundits say.
Despite being confident of an emphatic victory, the BJD has gone full-throttle to campaign in almost every ward. Nearly a dozen legislators, at least two ministers and MPs were deployed in each ward to campaign for the BJD candidates. They camped for over 10 days prior till the end of campaigning.
It seems it’s a do or die situation for the ruling BJD. Apart from star campaigners, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also campaigned for party candidates in Paradip yesterday, the last day of the campaign.
Surprisingly enough, the Opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have failed to catch up with the poll fever.
While the OPCC chief Prasad Harichandan toured only in one municipal area, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Narasingh Mishra was busy as the state Assembly was in session. A majority of the senior leaders were not seen during the campaigning.
BJP state unit chief KV Singdeo too matched Prasad’s numbers as he campaigned in only one municipal area. The key campaigners were missing barring a few senior leaders.
The voters will cast their votes tomorrow to elect representatives in 129 wards in eight civic bodies in the state. Polls to the Ranpur NAC have been postponed to May 5 due to discrepancies in the poll list.