Jagannath Pradhan (centre) meeting voters in the constituency
Jagannath Pradhan (centre) meeting voters in the constituency | Express

Bhubaneswar-Central Assembly seat set for a civic war this Lok Sabha election

Pradhan’s rival, Jena said he has always been with the people of the constituency.

BHUBANESWAR: The battle lines are drawn in the Bhubaneswar-Central Assembly constituency which seems poised for an all-stakes fight between sitting MLA and BJD candidate Ananta Narayan Jena and BJP’s Jagannath Pradhan.

The constituency, which encompasses the prime residential areas as well as the central business district of the capital city, though poses big questions for the candidates as persistent civic problems have taken centre stage over state and national issues during this election.

Cashing in on the early bird advantage with his candidature finalised much before his rivals from the BJD and Congress, BJP’s Pradhan has already raised the pitch by starting to visit people at their doorsteps and highlighting issues specific to the area. While Jena, the former mayor of Bhubaneswar who has finally been repeated by the BJD after a long period of uncertainty and speculations of change in party candidate, enjoys a long-time connect with the people, the Congress is yet to announce its candidate.

But, the voters of the constituency are not in a mood to make things easy for the candidates. They need proper solutions to the problems that span from urban flooding to sanitation, drainage, roads and public amenities in the region that is considered the heart of Smart City Bhubaneswar.

“All the Smart City glitz is on the surface and covers only the main thoroughfares while major part of the constituency still languishes in neglect. Take the instance of Cuttack Road. It does not look like a part of the Smart City. It is plagued with serious waterlogging issues, poor roads, no parking facility or even a bus stop,” said a local Ajay Kumar Nayak.

Another local said, “Poor roads and lack of basic facilities like public toilets cause a lot of problems during our day-to-day lives. The areas under the constituency also need proper beautification.”

Pradhan said he is aware of the civic issues and is assuring the voters of long-term solutions to all their problems. “I have always remained in touch with residents of Bhubaneswar Central Assembly constituency. After my candidature was announced, I started door-to-door campaigning promising to end the civic issues of the capital city,” said Pradhan.

The BJP leader, who came second from the seat in 2019 and 2014 elections, said the city’s drainage system is in shambles despite the state government announcing a special package of `1,000 crore to check urban flooding and waterlogging issues in 2019.

“During the door-to-door campaigning, I am discussing various issues of the citizens. They are facing problems like frequent digging of roads for different projects, intermittent piped drinking water supply, depriving the slum-dwellers of housing under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and not rehabilitating youths whose makeshift shops are being demolished. There are no recreation centres for retired persons and senior citizens and e-toilets worth crores are rotting in open in the city,” he said.

Pradhan’s rival, Jena said he has always been with the people of the constituency. He refuted the claims of the BJP leader that there has been no improvement in the city’s drainage system. “Around 80 per cent issues pertaining to the city’s drainage system have been resolved. The tender process to renovate a syphon in Laxmisagar at a cost of `60 crore is already over,” he said.

The sitting MLA said he is hopeful to get re-elected and if people repose their faith in him, he will work to strengthen various amenities like roads, drainage, sewerage, water supply, electricity, beautification, parks, gyms, among others. He said his other priority would be to provide houses to all slum dwellers.

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