BHUBANESWAR: Even as the State Election Commission (SEC) announced five-phase panchayat polls beginning from February 13 next, the major political parties have started exercise for selection of party candidates.
The BJD has started the ground work for the polls by sending observers to all districts for identification of
suitable candidates for Zilla Parishads, panchayat samities and gram panchayats. Sources in the party maintained that the candidate selection process has already started.
The block and panchayat level committees of the BJD have already finalised candidates for gram panchayats and panchayat samities. Over 90 per cent candidates for the Zilla Parishads have also finalised.
Sources in the party maintained meetings with the observers for the districts are being organised to reach consensus for candidates of Zilla Parishad seats where there are disputes.
The BJD has also emerged way ahead in the campaign with chief minister Naveen Patnaik visiting all the 30 districts to launch schemes and inaugurate projects.
Meanwhile, the Congress has decided to launch its election campaign from Bargarh district. The date and place for launching the campaign will be decided soon. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had led a 7-kilometer long "Save farmers padayatra" in Bargarh district in September last year. The Congress vice-president had visited Debahal and Belbahali villages where farmers had committed suicide.
Congress has also decided to release a manifesto for the panchayat polls within the next two to three days. The manifesto has already been finalised and released soon, a senior party leader said. The BJP has started a three-day exercise today at state party headquarters to discuss campaign issues and selection of candidates.