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Race for 67 seats begins

- 393 in final list of Jan. 8 contenders

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 26: A total of 393 candidates will fight it out for 67 seats in the January 8 municipal corporation election.

Six nomination papers were cancelled during scrutiny on various grounds and later, with the deletion of duplicate applications, 432 candidates remained on the list. Later, 39 Independent candidates withdrew from the contest. Among those who remained in the fray, 86 are women.

Among the 39 Independents who withdrew their candidature, three were former BJD councillors.

However, Biranchi Narayan Mahasupkar withdrew as a BJD candidate from ward No. 52 and chose to contest as an Independent from chosen ward No. 59.

Mahasupkar defied the party diktat and preferred to go by the choice of his supporters, who wanted him to contest on his home turf.

“I hope that the people will support me till the end and I will definitely win from ward No. 59, which constitute Samantarapur and its adjoining areas,” he said.

The popularity of Mahasupkar could be gauged from the fact that all the Independents had withdrawn to show solidarity with him. Mahasupkar will now take on the official candidates from the BJD, the Congress and the BJP in ward No. 59.

On the other hand, former BJD councillors Runu Jena from ward No. 63 and Krushna Chandra Sethi from ward No. 67, who had filed their nominations as rebel Independents against the BJD candidates, has withdrawn from the race.

Mandakini Mohanty, wife of former BJD councillor Kishore Kumar Mohanty, who filed her nomination from ward No. 55, also withdrew today.

“I want to remain a disciplined party worker of the BJD. As I was hoping for a party ticket, I had filed the nomination as an Independent,” clarified Mandakini.

Seema Nayak, wife of former BJD councillor Nrupesh Nayak, who is contesting from ward No. 55, said: “I will reach out to the voters in the evening hours because that’s the most likely hour to get the family together.”

Many candidates have also started motivating their voters through social media such as Facebook. While friends of the BJD candidate from ward No. 6 Pritinanda Routray have posted one of her campaign photos on the social networking site, the Utkal Bharat party has also posted its manifesto on the website.

While the candidates and political parties are busy chalking strategies to win votes, violation of model code of conduct has also cropped up during discussions in political circles.

The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee, in a letter to the state election commission, today alleged that the BJD, while celebrating its foundation today, had used vehicles to bring thousands of its supporters to the venue. They also displayed flags, posters, banners and hoardings in public places, which amounts to violation of model code of conduct.

Senior BJP leader Biswa Bhusan Harichandan also alleged that the BJD had violated the model code of conduct by organising such a huge gathering in the heart of the city.