Cruel summer forces candidates to burn midnight oil across Odisha

BJD, BJP and Congress candidates are campaigning during early morning and evening hours
Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi campaigning during evening
Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi campaigning during evening (Photo| Express)

BHUBANESWAR: As the elections begin to gather tempo, the grueling heatwave has forced political leaders to change their campaign plans in the state to cope with the extreme weather.

On Friday, Bhubaneswar recorded 43.5 degree Celsius, the highest temperature of the summer so far. Also, the capital was the second hottest city in the entire country.

To escape the torture of the weather, candidates of the BJD, BJP and Congress are campaigning in two windows - between 9 am and 11.30 am and 3 pm to 9 pm. With the day temperature at its peak between 12 noon and 3pm, BJP’s Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha candidate and sitting MP Aparajita Sarangi’s team carries out door-to-door campaigning and padyatra from 9 am to 12 pm and between 3 pm and 9 pm.

“Public meetings and rallies are also being planned mostly in the afternoon and evening to ensure voters and supporters are not put to any kind of inconvenience,” said a member of Sarangi’s campaign team.

However, with crucial campaigning time lost during the hottest parts of the day from 12 noon to 3 pm, candidates in some cases are going for late night campaigning to compensate for the loss. To compensate the lost time, Sarangi campaigns late into the night. “On Wednesday, the campaign was wrapped as late as 2 am,” he said.

Sarangi’s challenger Manmath Routray, BJD’s new face for the Bhubaneswar LS seat this time, has also worked out similar plans to ensure smooth campaigning during heatwave conditions.

According to campaign team members of Manmath, schedule of public outreach programmes has largely remained limited to the two windows - 9 am-12.30 pm and 3.30 pm-9 pm.

Not just in Bhubaneswar, candidates and leaders in other constituencies are also strategically shifting their campaigning hours to tackle the heatwave. Congress’ Lok Sabha candidate for Nabarangpur seat Bhujabal Majhi, who reached out to voters in Kotpad on Friday, said, “Campaigning is important but we also have to ensure that summer advisory of the government and Election Commission of India is followed and those attending the rallies do not face any trouble.”

For the campaign team members of Arup Patnaik, the BJD candidate who takes on BJP’s Sambit Patra in Puri LS seat, they have 309 gram panchayats to cover in the next one and half months. It can be a daunting task given the cruel weather but they are working out campaign plans so that senior leaders of the party could also attend the rallies even on days when temperature level will be at its peak.

To work around the weather extremities, some candidates are bringing innovation in their strategies and leaning towards digital campaigns to connect with voters to compensate for the reduced physical campaigning. A campaign strategist of a Lok Sabha candidate in Bhubaneswar said they are even trying to go for extensive digital campaigning as an alternative to reach out to voters for the time lost due to heatwave.

“Apart from social media platforms, we have formed different Whatsapp groups where we share the promotional content. Leveraging digital platforms will help maintain the engagement of our leader with voters and compensate for the reduced visibility during peak heat hours,” he said.

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The New Indian Express