BHUBANESWAR: It’s around 12.45 pm and the sun is beating down hard. The campaign vehicle is trying to wriggle out of the narrow lane in Paikrapur on the outskirts of the State Capital. That gives Aparajita Sarangi a little more time. She gets into the house of Kuni Chhualsingh and has a quick chat to find out about drinking water supply problems, issues of women and how they can augment their livelihood.
As the padyatra moves ahead, she catches up with an ice-cream vendor. He is from Bhanjanagar. “How much do you earn?” she asks. “`9,000 a month. But only during the summers. The rest of the year, I work as a daily wager painting buildings,” the man says. “You would like your income to be supplemented round the year, right?” she asks him.
Aparajita moves on. A 15 feet dug-well where the residents draw water from catches her attention. “Do you drink water from this,” she asks, perplexed. The well, with inhabitants like fish and turtles, does not look fit for drinking, of course.
The former Odisha-cadre IAS officer, who took VRS and joined BJP last year, has it all figured out. From Madam to Apa, Aparajita Sarangi, BJP’s Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha candidate, has made the transition swiftly. She knows what to ask and who to meet. It is about building the connect and cementing it.
Aparajita clearly has a head start. As the Municipal Commissioner of Bhubaneswar, she brought focus to the position with her work ethics, hard work, planning and efficiency. She was a no-nonsense officer. She continues to be one in her new avatar. That she has left her footprints is coming back to her as people recognise her from her work.
Her visit to Paikarapur, part of Jatni Assembly segment, was her first to the locality. But her rivals have not made it there yet. In an hour and half, she has met the residents, touched every household and spoken to the party workers. Aparajita is ready to move on to the next one - Gothapatna.
“One more village and then we head to the party office, not home. I have a long day ahead and we must work the time well,” she tells Jitendra Kumar Das, who coordinates her visits and schedule.In the last three months and a half, she has covered 196 villages and 92 urban wards in Bhubaneswar, Jatni and Khurda. And she is not done yet. Road shows, public meetings and people’s connect programme will continue. “I can work till midnight,” she says.But Aparajita is in no mood to waste time. “I want a complete grip on my constituency. When elections are done, I should be ready to put my plans to action from day one,” she explains.
A joint office of the MP and MLA in each segment is her Agenda No 1. Constituents should not travel far and wide to meet who they elect, she says. Instead, representatives would fix time and date to see them.
Agenda No 2 is a Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) where each GP has its issues and solutions listed out. Like in Balipatna and Balianta, irrigation is available for farmers but cold storage is not. In parts of Jatni, water supply is terrible. “GPDP will be a vision document. The objective is to turn Bhubaneswar into the best Parliamentary Constituency,” Aparajita says.