Kendrapara: The final phase of elections in Odisha has become a battle for prestige for the ruling BJD, which is leaving no stone unturned to ensure defeat of friend-turned-foe Baijayant Panda from Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency.
Making an exception, BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made a night halt after conducting roadshows in Mahakalapada, Kendrapara and Patkura in the constituency on Friday. He tried to strike an emotional chord with the electorate by mentioning about the bond his father, legendary Odisha leader Biju Patnaik, shared with them.
Humbled to be showered with so much love in campaign trail at #Kendrapara from Hariabanka to Garadpur through Marsaghai & Haldigada. Kendrapara was Biju Babu’s ‘karma bhumi’, he had a special relationship with its people who are a part of my 4 and half crore family of #Odisha pic.twitter.com/jb1UjE17qh
— Naveen Patnaik (@Naveen_Odisha) April 26, 2019
At the seaside village of Kharinasi, Naveen tried to woo the 50,000-strong Bengali-speaking voters with a promise to provide land pattas to the landless among them. He also assured the safety of 70,000 Muslims in the district.
The BJD president will resume his roadshow in a hi-tech vehicle on Saturday and canvas for votes at Tininimuhani in Pattamundai and Aul in Kendrapara district.
Several senior leaders, including Chandrasekhar Sahu and Pramila Bisoyi (BJD nominees from Berhampur and Aska Lok Sabha seats), Industries minister Niranjan Pujari, BJD candidate from Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat Arup Patnaik and former minister Sharada Nayak, are also camping in the district.
The regional party has fielded Rajya Sabha member and actor Anubhav Mohanty in the hope that his star power would do the trick for them.
Heavyweights have been fielded from all the Assembly segments under this constituency. The party has renominated all except sitting MLA Kishore Chandra Tarai, who had won the Kendrapara seat in 2014 elections. It decided to repeat Pratap Jena (Mahanga), Kishore Chandra Tarai (Kendrapara), Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak (Mahakalapada), who had won, and Prasant Behera (Salepur), Pratap Keshari Deb (Aul) and Dhruba Ch. Sahoo (Rajanagar) — who had lost in 2014 — to nip any possible dissidence in the bud. Finance minister Sashi Bhusan Behera in Kendrapara segment has replaced Tarai in Kendrapara segment.
Meanwhile, the BJP is also making all efforts to help Baijayant retain the seat. On April 23, Prime Minister Narandra Modi addressed a Vijay Sankalp Samavesh in Kendrapara and hit out at Naveen, saying that his farewell was imminent. On earlier occasions, Prime Minister Modi had avoided making any direct attack on the Chief Minister.
On Friday, Baijayant and Bijoy Mohapatra also held a roadshow in the constituency. They have been making all-out efforts to win, making the contest close.