BHUBANESWAR: With the State Election Commission (SEC) announcing the dates for five-phase panchayat polls beginning February 13 next, 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 (ZPs), panchayat samitis and gram panchayats. Sources in the party maintained that the candidate-selection process has already started.
The block and panchayat level committees of BJD have already finalised candidates for gram panchayats and panchayat samitis. Over 90 per cent candidates for the ZPs have also finalised.
Party sources said meetings with observers of districts are being organised to reach consensus for candidates of ZP seats where there are disputes.
The BJD has also emerged way ahead in 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-km long ‘Save farmers’ padyatra in Bargarh in September, 2015. The Congress vice-president had visited Debahal and Belbahali villages where farmers had committed suicide.
The Congress has also decided to release a manifesto for the panchayat polls within next two to three days. The manifesto has already been finalised and will be released soon, a senior party leader said.
The BJP started a three-day exercise on Tuesday at the State party headquarters to discuss campaign issues and selection of candidates.