ROURKELA: Campaigning continues to be a lackluster affair in the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district. So far, noisy hustings are missing in the district. A section of the candidates for different posts are blaming the scenario partly to impact of demonetisation and cash withdrawal limits of Rs 24,000 per week from individual saving bank accounts.
The poll campaign of BJD for 35-member Sundargarh Zilla Parishad (ZP) has picked up momentum on Friday with star campaigner and Odia cine actor Anubhav Mohanty holding road show in Birmitrapur Assembly constituency. On Thursday, Mohanty had covered the ZP seats in Bonai segment. Poll campaigns of BJP and Congress are likely to pick up pace five to six days ahead of polling in respective ZP zones.
Sundargarh District Panchayat Officer (DPO), Guruva Singh informed that on February 13, nine ZP seats in Nuagaon, Lathikata, Kutra and Subdega blocks; on February 15, eight ZP seats in Kuanrmunda, Bisra, Bargaon and Koida blocks; and on February 17, six ZP seats in Balishankara, Rajgangpur and Lahunipara blocks would go to poll. Six ZP seats in Hemgir, Lefripara and Bonai blocks and as many ZP zones in Sundargarh, Tangarpali and Gurundia blocks would go to poll on February 19 and 21 respectively, the DPO said.
Sundargarh District Congress Committee president, Dushmanta Naik admitted to slow pace of election campaign and claimed that candidates are complaining of cash crunch after demonetisation. ZP candidates of Congress, Giroti Xess in Subdega block and Sanjay Majhi of Tangarpali block, shared similar views.
However, senior BJD and BJP leaders said cash scarcity theory is not true as major parties are providing election materials including banners and posters to their ZP candidates. As of now, banners and posters of BJD and BJP have been put up at important junctions of rural pockets and one campaign vehicle has been pressed into service by each of the ZP candidates, sources said.
In some important gram panchayats, serious sarpanch candidates are under compulsion to spend `4 lakh to `5 lakh against the official expenditure limit of `80,000. A particular political party has set target to spend average of `four lakh in a ZP seat. The expenditure may extend up to `10 lakh against official limit of `two lakh for prestigious ZP seat, sources added.