considered the nerve centre of North odisha politics
STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Balasore, 18 September
Stakes are high for all the major political parties including BJD, Congress and BJP in the urban local body (ULB) election in Balasore given that it is the nerve-centre of politics of north Odisha.
While the Balasore Assembly segment is represented by BJD’s Mr Jiban Pradip Dash, the lone Union minister from the state Mr Srikant Jena represents the Parliamentary segment, and so the keen contest.
For BJD, it would be a “perform or perish” situation as several heavyweight ruling party leaders are from the district, and a group of senior leaders have been camping here for weeks for electioneering.
“The council in Balasore municipality has been dominated by independents since 1998, and it will thus be an acid test for the ruling party to snatch the seat. The BJD’s expectations from Balasore can be guessed from the fact that a couple of its MLAs from outside the district have been here for weeks together to campaign for the party candidates,” said an observer.
While the chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik himself has hit the campaign trail and sought to assuage the chit fund victims of all sorts of support by the government, his charisma will be put for questioning if the party fails to perform well. Not to leave any stone unturned, the party had engaged actor turned MP Mr Sidhant Mohapatra, Hockey player turned MP Mr Dilip Tirkey, actor Mr Anubhav Mohanty and a slew of other cine personalities to the voters.
For Congress, the Union minister Mr Srikant Jena made a brief campaigning himself, while engaging several experienced grass-root workers as key persons for canvassing.
A Congress worker confided that the party will not hesitate to seek support of independent candidates in forming the council and bagging the chief’s post if such external support helps in keeping the BJD at bay.
Meanwhile, bitter infighting of the BJP has somehow affected the prospective of the party candidates, felt the observers here.
The fact that a section of the BJP leaders are not happy with elevation of Mr Madan Mohan Dutta, a grassroot worker, as the party’s district president confirms that he will face a uphill task to achieve better results in the ULB polls.
“Several senior district level leaders have distanced themselves from the campaigning and are feared to sabotage the chances of the party nominees to humiliate Mr Dutta. In such a backdrop, the ULB poll results will prove his effectiveness and efficacy,” said an analyst.
It may be mentioned here that 50 per cent of the seats have been reserved for the women candidates. While BJD could not field candidate from a ward, Congress could not field its candidates in four wards in the 31 ward municipality.