After scrutiny and withdrawal of nomination papers, 160 candidates including 70 Independent candidates have been left in the fray for election to Balasore Municipality.
Apart from Balasore Municipality, three NACs in the district are also going to polls on September 19. While 64 candidates are contesting in 19 wards of Soro NAC, 52 are in the fray for Nilagiri NAC consisting of 13 wards, followed by 60 candidates in 17 wards of Jaleswar NAC.
Sources said 91,000 voters will exercise their franchise through 85 booths in 31 wards in Balasore Municipality. Even as the Sadar constituency is considered as the citadel of the ruling BJD, an Independent candidate has been capturing the civic body’s Chairperson post since long.
Last time, of 31 wards in the Municipality, the Independent candidates had captured 21 wards thereby registering an absolute majority. This time too, the Independents are likely to play crucial role.
After sudden demise of the two-time chairman Anup Das, who was in fact a deciding factor in the civic body polls here, his wife and outgoing Chairperson Sujata Das has joined BJD and is contesting the election from Ward no. 10. She will face tough competition for the coveted post within her family as Anup’s brother Swarup Das is contesting as an Independent from Ward no 5. Both Sujata and Swarup are considered potential candidates for the Chairperson post if elected.
This apart, both Congress and BJP too have fielded their own candidates and hope to form the council with support from the Independents. However, infighting in the Congress and BJP may spoil their chances.
Of 31 wards, Congress has fielded its candidates in 26 wards and in the rest of the wards it is supporting the Independents. BJP has fielded 30 candidates.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on Congress MP from Balasore and Union Minister Srikanta Jena, who is facing the civic body election in the district for the first time. Known for his maverick politics, Jena seems to have made up his mind to contest once again from this Lok Sabha constituency and hence he would be trying to get as many winning candidates in the civic body election as possible.
BJD district president Ananta Das, Sadar MLA Jiban Pradip Dash and BYJD district president Jajati Das are confident of the ruling party doing better in the polls and forming the Council with absolute majority for the first time.
The role of veteran politician Arun Dey will be crucial. Barring a few wards where his party NCP has fielded its candidates, in many wards he is supporting Independent candidates who are all set to capture at least 10 seats.