PARLAKHEMUNDI: With campaigning for first phase of polls coming to an end on Tuesday, the stage is set for multi-cornered contests in Paralakhemundi and Mohana Assembly segments of Gajapati district.
The Parlakhemundi Assembly segment is all set for a four-cornered contest among Kalyani Gajapati of BJD, sitting MLA K Surya Rao of Congress, K Narayan Rao of BJP and chairperson of Hi-Tech group Tirupati Panigrahy, who is contesting as an Independent candidate. In the 2014 elections, K Surya Rao had defeated K Narayan Rao of BJD by a margin of 1,454 votes.
This time after being denied ticket by the ruling party, K Narayan Rao joined BJP and became the party’s nominee. Panigrahy, who was unsuccessful in getting the Congress ticket, is in fray as an Independent candidate.
The role of these two candidates is critical and likely to determine the final outcome, feel political observers. During campaigning, Kalyani Gajapati highlighted the welfare schemes of the BJD Government and the charisma of the Chief Minister and party supremo Naveen Patnaik. Besides, as the scion of Gajapati dynasty, she emphasised her family background.
Sitting MLA of Paralakhemundi K Surya Rao sought votes based on his performance over the last five years. BJP’s nominee Narayan Rao focused on the schemes and policies of the Narendra Modi Government while Independent candidate Tirupati Panigrahy playing the son of the soil card and appealed the voters to give him a chance to serve them.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik campaigned for BJD’s candidates for both Paralakhemundi and Mohana Assembly seats. BJP president Amit Shah addressed a public meeting in Kasinagar block to campaign for the saffron party candidate.
In Mohana Assembly constituency, a triangular contest between Purnabasi Nayak of BJD, Dasharathi Gomang of Congress and Prasant Mallick of BJP is on cards. In 2014, Basanti Mallick of BJD had won the seat by a slender margin of 112 votes, which was the lowest in the State by defeating Dasharathi Gomang of Congress. This time both BJD and BJP have fielded new faces from the constituency while Congress is banking on Dasharathi again.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made by the district police for smooth conduct of polls. Speaking to media persons Gajapati SP Sarah Sharma said there are 82 critical and seven vulnerable booths out of the total 572 in the district. She said special arrangements have been made for patrolling in Maoist affected areas. The SP said 13 platoons of police force have been deployed in different parts of the district and a booth security audit has also been done. Around 4,18,191 voters will exercise their franchise to elect their representatives for the two Assembly seats.