Local Issues Sidelined in Battle of Prestige at Anandapur - The New Indian Express

Local Issues Sidelined in Battle of Prestige at Anandapur

Published: 15th April 2014 11:28 AM

Last Updated: 15th April 2014 11:28 AM

Local issues have been pushed to the shadows as Anandapur Assembly segment under Keonjhar Lok Sabha constituency has become a battle of prestige for both the Congress and the BJD.

 While OPCC president and three-time MLA from the seat Jayadev Jena has thrown everything to regain his traditional bastion and the BJD is pulling all stops to thwart him, the turf is playing up on State-level issues.

 “No one is talking of local issues like lack of roads, irrigation, electricity and shrinking employment opportunities. A game of one-upmanship, staking claim to the welfare programmes like cheap rice, pension and allowances, ambulance service, etc. have  taken precedence,” says Golakh Sahoo at Belabahali along the National Highway 215.

 The Assembly segment, which comprises Anandapur Municipality along with peripheral 14 gram panchayats and Hatadihi block, counts  on lack of irrigation facilities as a major problem despite abundance of river water and  Hadagarh dam. The roads are also not in good condition while electricity supply is erratic.

Curtailment of transportation enterprise that had become the prime employment generator in the area over the past decade has hit the people hard. With an absolute slump in mining and mineral transport activities from the mineral belt of Keonjhar, the sector has collapsed depriving hundreds of livelihood means.

 “But, everyone maintains a silence on these pressing issues. Jayadev Jena straightaway attacks Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for usurping Central Government programmes, while the BJD lists out the doles that it has given and is prepared to give in the coming days. Constituency-specific plans are simply missing,” rues Rajendra Sethy of Anandapur.

The elections, however, have turned into an intense battle with both Congress and BJD throwing all their might. Jena is pitted against former MLA Mayadhar Jena, who was fielded in place of sitting MLA Bhagirathi Sethy after switching sides from BJP.

 While the BJD decision to field Mayadhar Jena is said to be a step to counter anti-incumbency against Sethy, political pundits  feel it could backfire as it has propelled a section disgruntled with the selection of the candidate.

 Jayadev Jena, who shuttles between Anandapur and other parts of the State where he has to campaign as the State party chief, has roped in top leaders and celebrities like actor and party candidate from Cuttack Aparajita to campaign for him. He had lost the 2009 elections by 23,805 votes.

 According to observers, the fight will be close even though the PCC chief appears to have a slight edge in the race. Sensing trouble, the BJD has deployed minister Badri Narayan Patra to manage the campaign for Mayadhar. In fact, Patra is seen more in Anandapur than in neighbouring Ghasipura seat from where he is seeking re-election.

A total of five candidates are in the fray with BJP fielding Alok Sethy from the seat. The BJP had garnered around 11,000 votes in the last elections and is banking on the Modi factor to improve its performance this time round. Modi had held a rally in Keonjhar recently seeking votes for all the party candidates under the Lok Sabha segment.

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