KENDRAPARA: A fierce electoral battle is underway at Mahakalapada Assembly segment under Kendrapara Parliamentary constituency where BJD candidate and sitting MLA of Patkura Atanu Sabyasachi is up against odds to defend the party’s citadel.
The BJP has succeeded in penetrating the ruling party’s bastion by raising issues related to farmers’ plight due to distress sale of paddy, shortage of drinking water, power crisis and the condition of fishermen in the constituency. BJP candidate Bijay Pradhan said the BJD’s grip over the constituency has loosened due to the party’s anti-people policies. He said the BJD’s claim of a wave in its favour is imaginary.
The BJD has reasons to worry as a majority of the fishermen in the area are irked over the ban on fishing. Arjun Mandal, a fisherman of Kharinashi said the the sorry plight of fishermen after the authorities imposed fishing ban in the sea to protect Olive Ridley sea turtles from November 1 last year to May 31 has queered the pitch for the BJD as a majority of the people in the area depend on the sea for their livelihood. “Forest officials have arrested 840 fishermen and seized 101 fishing vessels since November 1 at Gahiramatha marine sanctuary and this has made the fishing community angry,” he said.
Although the contest in Mahakalapada is between the BJP and BJD, Congress candidate Bhibransu Lenka is likely to dent the BJD’s vote bank due to his clout in the region. Manas Jena, a resident of Mangalpur village said rampant irregularities in allocation of houses under Indira Awas Yojana and inclusion of beneficiaries under the KALIA scheme have emerged as big bother for the ruling party candidate.
“Several influential and rich persons managed to get houses under Indira Awas Yojana and also enlisted their names in KALIA scheme by greasing the palms of Government officials and ruling party leaders and this has tarnished the party’s image in the region,” he said.
Meanwhile, all the three major political parties-Congress, BJD and BJP are leaving no stone unturned to garner the support of the around 50,000 Bengali voters in the seaside villages of Mahakalapada Assembly segment. Sharmistha Mukherjee, a senior Congress leader and daughter of the former President of India Pranab Mukherjee had addressed an election meeting at Kharinashi on Friday.
“Many Bengali speaking people have no land in their names. The Congress will provide land pattas to all the seaside villagers after coming to power in the State,” Sharmistha had said in her speech. BJD too brought in former minister and senior leader Arabinda Dhali to woo the Bengali voters as their support can can change the outcome in the constituency.
Atanu said Bengalis must realise that only the BJD can ensure their development. He said the under-current is in favour of the BJD and its president and Chief Minister Naveen Patanaik due to the welfare schemes implemented by the State Government.