ROURKELA: With digital campaigning taking a hit in rural areas due to poor mobile connectivity, political parties are relying on grassroots workers to sail through the ensuing panchayat elections in Sundargarh.
In the tribal dominated district, over 60 per cent of rural voters are unaware of the hustle and bustle of electioneering as digital campaign, a new normal during this pandemic situation, is missing, the reason being absence of cellular network. Adding to the difficulties of political parties, the Covid restrictions on physical campaigning are a roadblock for influential leaders to connect with all the voters. In such a scenario, the onus of ensuring victory of candidates is on party cadres at the grassroots level.
BJP’s Birmitrapur MLA Shankar Oram said grassroots workers always play an important part in poll victory of any party but under the prevailing situation, their role has assumed decisive significance. Birmitrapaur Assembly constituency has over two lakh rural voters and it is impossible for him to personally reach out to everyone.
“Each Zilla Parishad (ZP) seat consists of 8-10 gram panchayats with around 15,000 to 17,000 voters. No leader can reach out to all the voters due to time constraints. Hence, the parties have to rely on grassroots workers to ensure the victory of their candidates. BJP is well-prepared and has effectively managed the booth-level workers,” he added.
Rourkela MLA of BJD Sarada Prasad Nayak said in a shift from the traditional electioneering which used to be one-way communication, leaders at panchayat, block and district levels are getting opportunity to directly interact with voters this time. The grassroots workers are playing a significant role in bridging the gap between the party and the rural electorate.
Abhiram Topno (55), a grassroots worker of BJD, said he is putting in extra efforts these days to pull maximum votes from his native Patrapali in Barilepta for the party’s ZP nominee for Nuagaon-B zone.
Another ground-level worker of BJD at Jorumal in Rajgangpur said he and a few other ward committee members are engaged in putting up banners and posters and doorstep distribution of campaign materials.
Sources said due to restriction on large gathering, political parties are focusing on ward, panchayat, and ZP zonal committees to convince voters in favour of their candidates.