Odisha votes in crucial second phase today

Heavyweights like CM Naveen Patnaik, BJP’s Jual Oram and BJD’s Dilip Tirkey are in fray
Electronic Voting Machines (File Photo| EPS)
Electronic Voting Machines (File Photo| EPS)

BHUBANESWAR: The stage is set for the second phase polls in Odisha on Monday. This round is considered to be the most crucial as Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is in the fray from two seats - his traditional stronghold Aska in Ganjam district and Kantabanji in Balangir.

The polls are crucial also for the fact that heavyweights like BJP MP candidate from Sundargarh Jual Oram, Sangeeta Singh Deo from Balangir, and BJD candidates from Sundargarh and Kandhamal respectively, Dilip Tirkey and Achyuta Samanta will test their luck.

Five Lok Sabha seats Bargarh, Sundargarh, Balangir, Kandhamal and Aska and 35 Assembly constituencies in them are going to polls in this phase. This phase, particularly, is all the more interesting as candidates from both the BJD and BJP are making vigorous efforts for a better performance as compared to the 2019 polls.

The BJP, which has been claiming that it will form the next government in the state, has lined up its top leadership including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party president JP Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh besides chief ministers of three states to campaign in this phase.

Similarly in BJD, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and star campaigner VK Pandian are spearheading the campaign for the party in this phase. Sources in the BJD said the party’s focus will be on Sundargarh and Balangir from where the party is eyeing more Assembly seats.

BJP sources, meanwhile, claimed the party will garner more Assembly seats from this phase owing to non-performance of the BJD government and large-scale corruption of which people are already fed up. Besides, the growing popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi across the state will give surprise results for the party, they asserted.

In the second phase polls in 2019, BJD had won 26 seats out of 35, BJP and Congress four seats each and CPM one. Out of the four Lok Sabha seats, BJP had won Bargarh, Sundargarh and Balangir while Kandhamal and Aska had gone to BJD.

The BJD had swept the polls in Bargarh and Kandhamal by winning all the 14 Assembly segments while it had won two in Sundargarh, four in Balangir and six in Aska. BJP had won three in Sundargarh and one in Balangir. Congress had two seats in Balangir and one each in Sundargarh and Aska.

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