BHAWANIPATNA: Campaigning came to a close in Kalahandi Lok Sabha constituency which will go to polls on Thursday.While seven candidates are in the fray, the fight will be between the BJD, BJP and Congress candidates Puspendra Singhdeo, Basanta Panda and Bhakta Charan Das respectively.
The constituency being a prestige issue for all the three parties, Naveen Patnaik, Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi had campaigned for their party candidates. Naveen has extensively campaigned in Nuapada and Kalahandi Assembly segments under the Parliamentary constituency in the last two days and also attended a Mission Shakti meeting.
In a marathon road show, he covered Khariar, Sinapali, Golamunda, Dharamgarh, Junagarh, Bhawanipatna, Jaipatna, Biswanthpur under Lanjigarh Assembly segment besides, Narla covering the entire Kalahandi Parliamentary constituency. On Tuesday, he visited Manikeswari temple in Bhawanipatna town and embarked on road shows in Jaipatna, Narla and Biswanathpur. In a veiled attack on the BJP, he questioned the Centre on issues like doubling of paddy MSP, Har Khet ko Pani (irrigation to every farm land) and closure of KBK project and depriving ST/SC students of scholarships and stipends.
Since Pushpendra, Basanta and Bhakta are heavyweights, it is going to be a neck-to-neck fight between the three. Although each of them enjoys good support in their constituencies, internal squabble in the parties is going to affect their poll prospects.
If observers are to be believed BJD, which won the constituency last time, may have the upper hand over other parties because of its Mission Shakti movement and KALIA scheme.Going by the campaign trail, people in urban areas were drawn to the roadshows of Naveen and Pushpendra while BJP focussed on rural areas.Basanta, who is an outsider, is depending on Modi wave and Central Government schemes to win over voters and bag the Kalahandi Parliamentary constituency for BJP.
Although Bhakta’s candidature did not go down well with his party workers and leaders, he is pinning his hope on Congress’ promises of hiking paddy MSP and farm loan waiver to win the seat. Many aspiring candidates for the constituency had revolted against Bhakta leading to an exodus from the party.
Puspendra had contested with BJD ticket from Koksara Assembly segment and from Dharamgarh Assembly segment in 2009 and 2014. Belonging to the zamindar family of Jaipatna, he was a minister in Naveen’s cabinet and president of district wing of the ruling party.
Basanta, State president of BJP, is the MLA of Nuapada Assemby segment. Bhakta, on the other hand, had won the constituency in 2009 but in 2014, he finished third in the electoral battle.