Opp gears up to storm BJD bastion in coastal Odisha

Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, April 9:

With the loudspeakers having fallen silent with the end of campaigning in southern and western Odisha yesterday, the opposition Congress and BJP have now turned their attention to coastal Odisha, the citadel of the ruling BJD where it had won the maximum number of seats in the 2009 elections.

The opposition parties have lined up their star campaigners in coastal Odisha in the next few days in an effort to wrest the voters away from the ruling party. It believes it has a real chance to cause significant breaches in the fortress of the BJD, which has been riven by dissension following denial of tickets to may sitting MLAs and strong contenders, if not demolish it altogether.

While Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha and senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj will visit the state on Thursday to canvass for votes for the party candidates, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will come once again to address two rallies in two Lok Sabha constituencies on April 11.

Swaraj will address rallies at Mahakalpada in Kendrapada district and Anandpur in Keonjhar district tomorrow. While BJP candidate Bishnu Das is pitted against BJD candidate and sitting MP Baijayant Panda for Kendrapada constituency, the saffron party has fielded ex MP Anant Nayak against BJD candidate Sakuntala Laguri, wife of Yashobanta Singh Narayan Laguri, for Keonjhar (ST) Lok Sabha constituency.

However, both the Assembly constituencies Mahakalpada and Anandpur are important for the party. While senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra is contesting from Mahakalpada seat, the party is pulling out all stops to stop PCC president Jaydev Jena from winning in the Anandpur seat.

Similarly, Narendra Modi will campaign in politically important Baleswar parliamentary seat and at Talcher coming under Dhenkanal Lok Sabha seat. The party hopes that it will be able to capture the two seats. While union minister and Congress campaign committee chief Srikant Jena is seeking re-election in Baleswar, BJD sitting MP Tathagat Satpathy is contesting from Dhenkanal aiming to enter the Parliament for the third consecutive time. In Dhenkanal, out of seven Assembly seat, six seats are represented by BJD while the Independent MLA Braja Kishore Pradhan has joined in the ruling party and is contesting from Talcher seat as a BJD candidate this time.

The Congress has also decided to rope in its two star campaigners AICC president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the second phase polls. Sonia Gandhi will address two rallies in Baleswar and Mayurbhanj on April 11. Both Modi and Gandhi will address rallies for their party candidates at Baleswar on the same day.

Besides, the Nehru-Gandhi scion will campaign in Jagatsinghpur for party candidates. He will campaign for sitting CPI MP Bibhu Prasad Tarai, who has joined the Congress party, and other Assembly candidates of party.

There are many heavyweights of the ruling party are contesting in Jagatsinghpur including BJD vice-president and Health Minister Damodar Rout and former Minister Bishnu Das.

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