Odisha Elections 2024: Curtains To Fall On Campaign Today For 2nd Round Amid High Stakes

Bhubaneswar: The high-decibel campaigning for the second phase of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha will come to an end on Saturday evening.

After the first round of polls, the state witnessed more intense electioneering with both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) competing fiercely as 2nd phase polling is set to be held for five Lok Sabha and 35 Assembly seats on May 20.

Among the prominent contenders in round 2 are BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, veteran BJP leader and former Union Minister Jual Oram, former Indian hockey captain Dilip Tirkey, former Union Minister and hotelier Dilip Ray, and BJP’s four-time Lok Sabha MP Sangeeta Singh Deo.

With a few hours left for the end of campaigning for the next round, top leaders of BJD and opposition BJP are making a last-ditch effort to woo voters. Congress leaders are also trying their best to make their presence felt.

A total of 40 candidates are contesting from five Lok Sabha seats while 265 are in fray for 35 Assembly constituencies. As many as 79,62,148 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise on Monday.

The five Lok Sabha seats going to polls are Aska, Kandhamal, Balangir, Bargarh and Sundargarh. While BJD had won Aska and Kandhamal in 2019, the rest three had gone to BJP. As the electoral fight appears to be closer this election, both parties have resorted to man-to-man marking.

Following the death of a BJP worker in poll violence in Ganjam, CM’s home district, 20 companies of central armed police force are being deployed in the district for Monday’s polling.

A battery of BJP heavyweights, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party’s national president J P Nadda as also Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states such as Assam, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan made whirlwind tours of the state and addressed marathon public meetings. This apart, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw and MP Hema Malini are also in the state seeking support for their party candidates.

For the ruling BJD, most poll rallies are being addressed by CM Naveen and his close aide V K Pandian. Similarly, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and party leader and MP Rahul Gandhi had addressed two meetings in Kandhamal and Balangir.
Besides seeking re-election from his home turf Hinjili, Naveen Patnaik is also contesting from Kantabanji Assembly constituency in Balangir.

The personal attack on each other’s leadership dominated the campaign in the run up to the second phase, putting the issues like price rise and under-development on the back burner.

The phase is particularly important for Odisha BJP as the saffron party wants to retain the seats of Bargarh, Balangir and Sundargarh in order to improve its tally from the State.

On the last day of campaign, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw is scheduled to address public at Banai in Sundargarh and Rajgangpur.

BJP’s star campaigner MP Hema Malini will seek votes for party candidates in Angul, Pallahara and Deogarh by addressing public meetings and holding road shows.

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