Hinjili/Bijepur: The people of Hinjili and Bijepur Assembly segments have a common complaint against BJD candidate and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik that they have seen him in television and posters numerous times, they want to have a face-to-face interaction with him.
Though people of both the Assembly segments are happy that the chief minister is contesting from their areas, they rue that they hardly find Patnaik canvassing for votes like nominees of rivals – BJP and Congress.
Patnaik has been elected to the state Assembly four times in a row from Hinjili in Ganjam district since 2000.
In addition to seeking a fifth term from the seat, this time he has also entered the fray from Bijepur, a key Assembly constituency in western Odisha.
Polling in both Hinjili and Bijepur Assembly seats will take place in the second phase April 18. While Hinjili is 175 km from Bhubaneswar, the distance between the state capital and Bijepur is 348 km.
BJD leaders, including ministers are campaigning for Patnaik. But, people are not happy as they want to see the Biju Janata Dal chief in their villages.
“We have seen the chief minister in television and posters, but not in person. We are his strong supporters, but unable to see him,” said Rukmani Sahu, a 35-year-old woman self help group member at Sheragad. Many others echoed similar views.
Patnaik April 13 held a roadshow in urban pockets of Hinjili and sought blessings of the people. His roadshow was confined to two blocks of Hinjili and Sheragad. But, the constituency is spread over 35 gram panchayats.
Apana mane mote ashirbad karantu, sankha chinhare vote diantu (Please bless me and vote on conch symbol), Patnaik said in Odia during the roadshow.
People from different villages came to urban area to have a glimpse of Patnaik, but many others could not make it to the occasion. People in villages are keen to see the BJD chief undertake door-to-door campaign in rural areas, Sahu said.
The people of Hinjili have no grievance about essential needs like roads, pipe water, electricity, teachers in schools, doctors in hospitals and PDS quota of cheap rice. However, some of them complained that many farmers have not received the benefits of the KALIA scheme, a government scheme of direct benefit to the farmers.
Opposition BJP nominee Pitambar Acharya, a senior Orissa High Court advocate, has been using the peoples’ complaint about Patnaik’s absence in his favour.
“I am getting maximum response from voters in villages. The people have not seen the BJD candidate and cannot talk to him in Odia as Patnaik hardly speaks in the local language,” Acharya, a greenhorn, said.
Exuding confidence that the people of Hinjili would this time vote for BJP, Acharya said: “The farmers of Hinjili have been cheated as they could not get financial assistance under KALIA scheme.”
While both the Congress and BJP candidates in 2014 polls lost their deposits fighting against the chief minister, Acharya claims he will win the polls by a margin of above 40,000.
Congress has fielded its former Ganjam district president Sambhunath Panigrahi, a local leader. The Congress candidate is seeking mandate highlighting his local identity.
“While BJD candidate stays in Bhubaneswar, the BJP nominee comes from Cuttack. I am always with the people of Hinjili,” Panigrahi said.
In 2014 elections, Patnaik had defeated Congress candidate Sibaram Patra by 76,586 votes.
Similar is the situation in Bijepur in Bargarh district as the Assembly segment has been witnessing a low key campaign.
Bijepur’s sitting MLA Rita Sahu, Odisha Minister Sushant Singh, Rajya Sabha MP and BJD’s Bargarh Lok Sabha candidate Prasanna Acharya are going round the constituency and campaigning for Patnaik.
“We are getting tremendous response from the people in support of the chief minister. There should be no doubt that BJD will win Bijepur seat with record margin,” said Rita Sahu while minister Sushant Singh claims that people will vote only for BJD as the chief minister is their candidate.
Patnaik Monday held public meetings in Bargarh Lok Sabha segment and plans to undertake campaigning in Bijepur Tuesday.
Congress has fielded former MLA Ripunath Seth in Bijepur, a local man. BJP pitted Sanat Gadtia against the chief minister. He is the nephew of Nityananda Gadtia who was Bijepur MLA from 1977 to 1980 as a Janata Party nominee.
BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said, “People are proud to get the chief minister as their candidate. The chief minister is always with the people of Hinjili and Bijepur. All their grievances are being heard and the CM personally looks after development of both the places. The CM has already campaigned in Hinjili and likely to undertake one in Bijepur Tuesday. He is very much with the people.”