BHUBANESWAR: On a day when Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan campaigned for BJP’s candidate for Bijepur by-election, the ruling BJD admitted that its victory margin may come down from the last time.
Government chief whip and senior BJD leader Pramila Mallick said the party candidate will win by 30,000 to 35,000 votes in the bypoll scheduled on October 21. Going by Mallick’s claim, BJD’s victory margin will come down by 22,000 votes compared to 2019 Assembly election when Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had won by a margin of over 57,000 votes. While the Chief Minister had polled 1,10,604 votes, his nearest rival BJP’s Sanat Gartia bagged 53,482 votes.
Mallick’s prediction of reduced victory margin of BJD candidate has surprised political observers as the ruling party has stationed senior party leaders and ministers at the gram panchayat level of the constituency to ensure that the candidate garners more votes compared to the last election.
BJD candidate Rita Sahu, who had successfully contested the 2018 by-poll from the constituency, had polled 1,02,871 votes against her BJP rival Ashok Panigrahi’s 60,938 votes.
Mallick, however, maintained that the BJD campaign is running very well with the party leaders leaving no stone unturned to reach the doorstep of every voter. “People have made up their mind to vote for us. Campaign by Union ministers will have no impact on them,” she said.
Senior BJD leader Sanjay Dasburma and former minister Snehangini Chhuria addressed rallies and road side meetings at Barpali, Gaisilet and Bijepur blocks of the constituency. “People of Bijepur have decided to repose faith in the State Government once again because they want to keep the developmental engine running in the region,” Dasburma said.
Meanwhile, Pradhan, who campaigned in Gaisilet block for Gartia, targeted the Chief Minister for neglecting the Assembly segment after getting elected from the seat. “The Chief Minister could have retained Bijepur and vacated Hinjili constituency, but he choose to leave Bijepur,” he said.