|Chief minister Naveen Patnaik at an election rally in Berhampur on Monday. Picture by Gopal Krishna Reddy
Bhubaneswar/Berhampur, Sept. 17: The BJD and the Congress are doing their best to capture the Berhampur Municipal Corporation, the only civic body in the state going to the polls on Thursday.
The campaign for the urban polls came to an end today.
The corporation, which has been a BJD bastion, is the home-turf of Congress leader Chandra Sekhar Sahu and BJD stalwart Surjya Narayan Patro. It is a part of Ganjam, the home district of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. “Those who win the corporation and take a lead in the notified area councils of Ganjam will have a psychological advantage over others in the 2014 general elections.”
Of 18 urban local bodies in Ganjam, the BJD still controls 14 urban bodies, including the Berhampur Municipal Corporation. On Thursday, 66 urban bodies in 20 districts will go to the polls.
The Congress, led by AICC general secretary-in-charge of Odisha B.K. Hariprasad, campaigned in Berhampur today.
Both the parties used the same venue, Ramlingam Tank Road, in Berhampur for their campaigns. During his campaign yesterday, Naveen spoke about various government-initiated programmes. However, the Congress leaders today took potshots at him for misleading people on the issue. Hariprasad said: “When Bangalore has become a Vigyan Nagri and turned into an IT hub, Berhampur continues to take a backseat due to lack of vision on part of the state government.”
Accusing the BJD of using muscle and money power, former law minister Narasingh Mishra said: “In the name of maintaining law and order, police are detaining Congress activists and preventing them from electioneering.”
On the other hand, Naveen went on a marathon campaign and addressed public meetings at Chhatrapur, Rambha, Purosttampur, Kodala and Khallikot councils.
Polling will be held at around 1,968 booths in 20 districts. The BJP today intensified its campaign in Puri and Balasore districts. BJP state unit president K.V. Singh Deo said: “We will certainly do well in the urban polls. The Modi wave has reached Odisha.”
To ensure a smooth election, on the advice of the State Election Commission, the state government has declared the polling day as holiday for government offices except the treasuries and sub-treasuries where the polls will be held. The commission has directed district collectors to have polling on selective booths video-recorded. It has identified 66 booths as highly sensitive and 365 as sensitive.