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Civic poll battle heats up

Berhampur, Sept. 4: The BJD is trying hard to retain power in the municipal corporation here, while local heavyweights from the Congress are leaving no stone unturned to upset the BJD’s plans.

The civic polls are to be held on September 19.

The Berhampur Municipal Corporation is going to polls at a time when most of the voters are complaining about bad roads, bad sanitation, lack of space for parking, siltation of drains, difficulties of drinking water and other civic issues.

Former chairman of the Berhampur Municipality Chandra Sekhar Sahu, who is in the steering seat of the Congress campaign in Berhampur, has appealed to the people to vote for his party for the development and progress of the city.

“Many projects, including construction of Nehru Park at Hillpatna, Gandhi Park at Ramlingam Tank Road, Indira Priyadarsini Park at Haridakhandi and others were undertaken in the municipality area during the Congress regime. Now, poor maintenance has taken a toll on these projects. Though the Centre had sanctioned Rs 500 crore during 2005-2011 under various schemes, the BJD-dominated council managed to spend only Rs 16 crore due to non-deposit of detailed project reports,” Sahu, who is also a former Union minister, said.

“The Congress has conducted a training camp for all its 39 candidates. Of all the candidates fielded, 25 are new to electoral politics, so we decided to provide necessary tips and training to all our candidates before the polls,” he said.

Though the BJD appeared to be panicky over the Congress strategy, it has not remained silent. Berhampur MLA Ramesh Chandra Chau Patnaik, who played a pivotal role in selection of the candidates for the poll, has taken a backseat following controversies. Besides, one BJD candidate (ward No. 21) withdrew her nomination papers.

Four state ministers, including Surya Narayan Patra (revenue), Bikram Kesari Arukh (rural development), Usha Devi (women and child development) and parliamentary affairs minister Kalpataru Das are camping in the city. Five others — Sarada Nayak, Subash Singh, Debendra Kunar, Chandra Sarathi Behera and Bhubaneswar mayor Ananta Narayan Jena along with the four ministers — are entrusted with the job of managing the poll strategy, BJD party sources said.