The deserted streets in villages of this high profile Assembly constituency even during early morning hours speak volumes of the lack of enthusiasm among people about the elections, which is only three days away.
The poll preparations, however, are not lacking. Posters and banners of the ruling BJD and opposition BJP dot the areas between Dayapalli and Kanchuru villages in the constituency. A campaign vehicle of a political party blaring out songs passes by, but there is hardly any urgency either among the voters or the candidates for the ensuing polls.
Perhaps, the inevitability of the outcome from this seat from where Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik is seeking re-election for the fifth consecutive time, has created a sense of complacency among the ruling party workers. On the other hand, the opposition BJP’s offensive is mainly led by Naveen’s BJP rival Pitambar Acharya who tries to brainwash a group of BJD workers near Dayapalli village by narrating the failures of the State Government during the last two decades.
However, except Acharya and his close aides, the BJP camp is not attaching much importance to the seat.
Such is the hold of Naveen in this constituency that supporters of Acharya struggled to arrange a rally for the BJP candidate at Dayapalli village for nearly two hours on Saturday. “The Chief Minister has already visited us once seeking our vote but the BJP is yet to meet us,” says D Bappa Rao, a former BJD Panchayat Samiti member. Acharya has visited the area for the first time on Monday though his campaign managers have been announcing this for the last two days, he adds.
Though there is some resentment among sections against the ruling party for a number of reasons including local ones which varies from village to village, even those who are opposed to the Chief Minister admit that his win is inevitable. Rajkumar, a pan shop owner in Kanchuru village, said his family of eight will not vote for Naveen this time as they are yet to get back their money invested in chit fund scam. “Naveen is going to win anyhow, but his margin will go down,” he says.
Chaitanya Sahu, another pan shop owner of the same village, said as long as people are getting cheap rice at `1 per kg and other freebies, they will continue to vote for Naveen. When he is told that the BJP and Congress are also promising the same thing, Sahu said there is a difference between delivering on promises and empty promises.
This is the common refrain among people across the entire constituency.
However, Manoj, a resident of neighbouring Nimigaon village, said Hinjili will witness a tough fight this elections. But it will be upare (upper) Modi (BJP for the Lok Sabha) and tale (lower) Naveen Patnaik (in the Assembly), he added.
Pitambar, however, is confident that BJD will face a setback from the constituency. “People are angry and you can notice a sullenness among them. They are not coming out against the BJD fearing reprisals, but they will definitely vote for BJP,” he said.
But Silu, a youth of Hinjili town, does not agree. He says, “It will be 100 per cent Naveen and the party will surpass last election’s winning margin.” In 2014 polls, Naveen had defeated his nearest Congress rival Sibaram Patra by over 76,500 votes, securing 73.14 per cent votes. In 2009 elections, the margin of win against Raghab Parida of Congress was over 61,000 votes and the Chief Minister had secured 76.04 per cent votes. The votes polled by Naveen’s main rivals in these two elections had not crossed 13 per cent.
This time, BJP’s Acharya may relegate Sambhunath Panigrahy of Congress to the third position.