Kendrapara: The strong base of the Biju Janta Dal (BJD) in the rural areas of Kendrapara and its aggressive campaign by party workers and volunteers in many areas of the constituency are likely to give a tough time to former MP and BJP candidate Baijayant Panda.
A visit to the Kendrapara constituency and many of its Assembly segments Sunday by this correspondent revealed a massive poster war by the BJD which seemed to be on a mission to spread to large parts of the constituency in the rural areas to ensure familiarising the voters with the faces and symbols of the regional party.
While the quantum of posters by BJD, its campaigning and its workers seemed to have outnumbered the saffron party in many areas, the one-decade presence of Panda in the constituency seemed to have some vote bank in rural areas too.
However, many villagers said that as they would like to vote for a party. Panda’s shifting to the saffron brigade may deprive him of votes from people who personally liked him, it was learnt.
“We like Panda as he was an MP for good time and has worked well in some areas like drinking water projects. But we vote for parties we love rather than individual candidates. The BJD has helped us with roads, water and houses. We can’t ditch the party,” said Sangram Barik, a villager from Parinuapada in Rajkanika block of the district.
Another villager Sanjay Panda from Dashipur in the same block said, “There is no Modi wave in our area but there is Naveen wave. Naveen is adored for his pro-poor schemes like KALIA, subsidised ration and others whereas we can’t see much support from Modi or BJP for us.”
He, however, claimed that there had been a surge in the patronage given to BJP by the youths and some sections of the village.
Panda meanwhile is also showing a confident face before his voters and boasting of the good number of supporters converging for his rallies.
The state BJP had earlier moved the office of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to ask him to consider ousting many BJD ministers and leaders who are not voters to ensure a free election.
The tussle for the Kendrapara seat has now become the biggest fight for the BJD and BJP in the fourth phase as the ruling party as well as the saffron party seem to be putting mammoth efforts to seize power in the area.
Kendrapara is considered a bastion of the BJD for long. The ruling party is trying to retain the status while Panda is toiling hard to change the political arithmetic here.