BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik is likely to campaign for the bypoll to the Brajrajnagar Assembly constituency with the ruling party’s main rival BJP deciding to rope in a host of senior leaders including five union ministers for electioneering.
As the BJD had won the seat for the first time in the history of the constituency in the 2019 assembly elections, the party has started making all out efforts to retain the seat in the bypoll. The BJP has smelt a chance in the bypoll as its candidate was defeated in the last Assembly elections with a margin of only 12,000 votes.
Besides, the bypoll will be the last test for the political parties at least in Western Odisha before the 2023 general elections and the ruling BJD wants to maintain its overall dominance in the region. A senior leader of the ruling party said that the Chief Minister wants the party to increase the victory margin in the bypoll compared to the last election. If required, he will also campaign in the constituency for a day or two now that the Covid pandemic has receded.
Western Odisha districts are considered to be the traditional stronghold of the BJP and its candidate Radharani Panda had won from the constituency in 2014 Assembly elections. Sources in the ruling party said that Panda has her network in the constituency and is likely to give a strong challenge to the ruling party candidate Alaka Mohanty who is banking on sympathy wave besides Naveen’s charisma to win the election.
A senior BJD leader said that the BJP can match the BJD in the constituency in organisational spread and the Chief Minister may have to campaign for the party candidate. The Chief Minister had campaigned for party candidates in bypolls to Tirtol and Balasore Assembly constituencies virtually during the peak of Covid pandemic.
Meanwhile, the BJD submitted a list of 40 member star campaigners to the Election Commission of India which included the Chief Minister and two Ollywood actors Arindam Roy and Akash Dasnayak.