Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi; and Odia film stars will campaign for Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates for the Patkura Assembly by-election to be held July 20.
The by-poll to Patkura Assembly segment in Kendrapara district was deferred twice—first due to the demise of BJD candidate and then in the wake of Cyclone Fani.
The saffron party has fielded veteran leader Bijoy Mohapatra, a well-known bête noire of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, for the Patkura seat. Mohapatra would be taking on BJD’s Sabitri Agarwalla and Congress nominee Jayant Mohanty.
Sabitri is the widow of former minister and sitting MLA Bed Prakash Agarwalla, whose death led to the initial postponement of elections in Patkura.
Patnaik’s name was among the 40 star campaigners list of the ruling BJD submitted to the Chief Electoral Officer’s (CEO) office here.
Naveen’s rivalry with Mohapatra dates back to two decades when the BJD president denied him a party ticket in 2000. Since then, Patnaik has ensured that Mohapatra lost polls in 2004, 2009 and 2014.
All the three major parties in Odisha—BJD, BJP and Congress – have announced their star campaigners for the election. The BJD had already engaged seven senior ministers, 22 MLAs, one MP and four Odia film stars to campaign for Sabitri Agarwalla.
“The Chief Minister is likely to visit Patkura July 17 and participate in a roadshow apart from addressing some roadside meetings,” said Labour Minister Susanta Singh, who is among the seven ministers looking after campaigning in Patkura.
Apart from Naveen, names of the ministers like Prafulla Mallik, Pratap Jena, Arun Sahoo, Samir Ranjan Das, Susanta Singh, Dibya Shankar Mishra and Raghunandan Das figure in the list of BJD.
Cine stars – Arindam Roy, Kuna Tripathy and Akash Das Nayak – are also in the BJD list of star campaigners for the Patkura Assembly poll. Besides, Kendrapara MP Anubhav Mohanty is also a star campaigner of the ruling party.
Union ministers Dharmendra Pradhan and Pratap Sarangi, former Union minister Jual Oram, state BJP in-charge Arun Singh, state president Basant Panda, Sambit Patra, Damodar Rout, Aparajita Sarangi and Kharavela Swain are among the 40 star campaigners who will campaign for the saffron party.
Odia film stars like Sritam Das, Anu Choudhury, Harihar Mohapatra and Pinky Pradhan will also campaign for BJP candidate Mohapatra.
The Congress has also asked its nine MLAs to campaign for its candidate Jayant Mohanty. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) in-charge Jitendra Singh, co-in-charge TS Singhdeo, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik, senior legislators Narasingha Mishra, Taraprasad Bahinipati and Sura Routray are among the star campaigners of the Congress party.
Senior Congress leaders including Prasad Harichandan, Ganeswar Behera, Chiranjib Biswal, Ramesh Jena, Saptagiri Ulaka, Jaydev Jena and Sarat Patnaik will also campaign for the party candidate.
In the recently held Odisha Assembly election the BJD won 111 seats in the 147-member House while the BJP bagged 23 and Congress nine.
Interestingly, the name of Cabinet minister Ranendra Pratap Swain, who has been given the charge of Garadpur block of the constituency, does not figure in the 40-member star campaigners’ list. However, the party has named newcomers—Devi Ranjan Tripathy and Souvik Biswal. Both Devi and Souvik are the sons of two former BJD MLAs, who have been sent to jail (now on bail) for their involvement in chit fund scam.