Padampur bypoll: ‘Barsha bui’ buoyed by women, BJP banks on farmers’ support

BJP is raking up irrigation and water supply issues besides electricity woes which continue to bother farmers for years

Published: 26th November 2022 06:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th November 2022 06:08 AM   |  A+A-

Barsha Singh Bariha campaigning at Tal village on Friday | Express

Express News Service

BARGARH: It’s noon time. The entry point of Tal village, part of Tal Panchayat under Zone 2 of Padampur, is buzzing with women waiting to welcome “Barsha bui”. That’s Barsha Singh Bariha, the BJD candidate for Padampur bypoll.   

Though none of the women had ever seen Barsha in her childhood, they are curious about the “daughter of the soil.” “She is a daughter of Padampur. She is here to fulfill the dreams of her father and we are here to support her,” says Sumita Bhoi, a homemaker in her mid-fifties.

A campaign van of BJP passes in front of the village but none notice as the women are glued to the huge BJD rally coming towards them. As Barsha arrives in the village, the seventh since morning and six more to go in the day, villagers jostle around her vehicle.  

She appeals, “I am one of you. Support me like you supported my father. I want to become a medium for conveying your concerns to the state government and bring development in Padampur.” There is certain earnestness about her and women are clearly interested.

The menfolk, though, seem disinterested. “A married woman like them contesting an election against a seasoned politician of the area is what interests the women,” says a villager.  They have no problem with Barsha but seem upset with the party. “I faced a tough time getting the crop insurance money which came too very late,” said one of them. 

Tal village with around 4000 voters has a women vote share of more than 50 per cent. When the day of reckoning comes, the women could be calling the shots. Barsha’s rally reaches the last village in Sargibahal panchayat late as during door-door campaigning, most women were seen dragging her  to their houses to offer water and sweets. 

On the other hand, in Jamurtala village, BJP candidate Pradip Purohit is handy, reaching out to people at their doorsteps. Backed by party workers who are scattered across the constituency in different groups to campaign, Purohit has made it a point to make a personal connect with voters. With years of affinity with Padampur voters, he was seen asking farmers about crop insurance money and problems they are facing.

Raju Bariha, a roadside tea vendor near Barihapali chowk says they have already seen women candidates contesting election in Attabira and Bijepur blocks. “A young candidate like Barsha is very rare. But people here bet on the party not the candidate. I am enjoying the benefits of multiple schemes of BJD and so are people of Padampur.  But a majority of voters here are farmers and their concerns have not been addressed,” he says in a matter-of-factly manner.

Irrigation and water supply issues continue to bother farmers since years besides electricity woes and BJP is raking up these core issues. “Pradip Babu has always stood by farmers. If farming is their concern, they should support him.” says a BJP worker. However, the much-hyped district status declaration seems to cut no ice among the rural voters.

Former minister and senior BJD leader Pratap Jena feels farmers’ issue is important but that too has been neutralised after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the input assistance. “Many other plans are on the cards for farmers of Padampur,” he points out. BJP leader Mukesh Mahaling disagrees. “Padampur is a drought-affected area, joblessness is high. There are problems of irrigation and migration and none has been addressed by the BJD yet,” he says.

Padampur Electorate

Total voters 2,57, 474

Male 1,29,497

Female 1,27,965


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