BHUBANESWAR: With the five-phase panchayat polls set to begin from February 13, political parties have intensified their campaign with star campaigners leading the charge. The campaign schedule of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is, however, yet to be decided even though he was the number one star campaigner of the ruling BJD.
Sources maintained that with the BJD in a dominant position as the ruling party supported candidates have so far been elected uncontested in many seats, the Chief Minister is likely to limit his campaign to only Ganjam, his home district. The Chief Minister is likely to campaign at few other places as well including tribal dominated Southern districts.
The campaign schedule of chief ministers of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, Raman Singh and Raghubar Das besides other central leaders are also yet to be finalised. Sources said the two BJP chief ministers will campaign for their party candidates from the second week of February. However, the two central ministers from the state, Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan have already started campaigning for the party candidates.
Oram is leading the campaign of the BJP candidates in Sundargarh and other Western Odisha districts while Pradhan has campaigned for the party candidates in several areas. Oram will campaign for the party candidates in Sambalpur, Koraput and Balasore districts from tomorrow. Leader of the BJP legislature party KV Singhdeo will also campaign for the party candidates in Jagatsinghpur, Kandhamal, Bargarh, Balasore, Cuttack and Gajapati districts from tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) today alleged that the BJD is openly violating the model code of conduct in Bhadrak, Dhenkanal, Khurda and Nayagarh districts. A team of Congress leaders including party MLA Jacob Pradhan, party spokesperson Siddhanta Mohanty, Girija Shankar Das and Sougat Mohanty submitted a memorandum to the State Election Commission (SEC) and demanded that election to seats where the BJD had violated the model code of conduct should be cancelled. Though it was decided at the all political party meeting convened by the SEC that party symbol cannot be utilised for campaign for panchayat posts which are not being on non-political party basis, BJD is violating this decision repeatedly, they said.