BHUBANESWAR: With the five-phase panchayat polls set to begin from February 13, political parties have intensified electioneering with their star campaigners leading the charge.
However, the campaign schedule of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is 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 several seats, the CM is likely to limit his campaign to only his home district Ganjam.
The CM is likely to campaign at few other places as well including tribal dominated Southern districts. The campaign schedule of CMs of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand Raman Singh and Raghubar Das besides other Central leaders is also yet to be finalised. Sources said the two BJP CMs will campaign for their party candidates from the second week of February.
However, the two Union Ministers from the State, Jual Oram and Dharmendra Pradhan, have already started campaigning for party candidates. Oram is leading the campaign of BJP candidates in Sundargarh and other Western Odisha districts while Pradhan has campaigned for party candidates in several areas.
Oram will campaign for party candidates in Sambalpur, Koraput and Balasore districts from Friday. Leader of BJP Legislature Party KV Singhdeo will also campaign for party candidates in Jagatsinghpur, Kandhamal, Bargarh, Balasore, Cuttack and Gajapati districts from Friday.
Meanwhile, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Thursday alleged that 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 spokespersons Siddhanta Mohanty, Girija Shankar Das and Sougat Mohanty submitted a memorandum to State Election Commission (SEC) and demanded that election to seats where BJD had violated the model code of conduct should be cancelled.
Though it was decided at the all political party meeting convened by SEC that party symbol cannot be utilised for campaign for panchayat posts which are not on non-political party basis, BJD is violating this decision repeatedly, they alleged.