Cuttack, Jan. 31: Electioneering for the municipal corporation gained momentum with chief minister Naveen Patnaik hitting the campaign trail here today.
Accompanied by senior party leaders, Naveen covered nearly 30 wards under Cuttack Sadar and Choudwar Cuttack Assembly constituencies seeking support for BJD candidates. “Bless BJD candidates,” was the refrain in his speeches at Chauliaganj and Shikharpur.
The Congress and the BJP have also ramped up their campaigns.
Coming ahead of the general elections due in April, the corporation polls are being seen as the dress rehearsal for the big battle and a mini-referendum on the performance of the Naveen government.
Cuttack being the old capital of the state and its political nerve centre, the outcome of the February 6 polls would have an impact on the future of almost all the parties.
Over 1,500 supporters accompanied Naveen during his two-hour road show covering Nuagarh village, Paikasahi, Indira Colony, Kazipatna, Press Chhak, Sartol and Poparda. With heavy security arrangements for Naveen’s visit, traffic in Madhupatna, OMP and Sikharpur was disrupted for nearly 20 minutes during the road show this afternoon. Many people gathered along the NH-5 to have a glimpse of the BJD supremo.
He addressed a public meeting at Durga Chhak at Sikharpur seeking blessings for party candidate Pralaya Beura, who is contesting from ward No. 46.
“I am blessed that the chief minister has campaigned for me,” said Beura.
Senior BJD leaders, including ministers Arun Sahu, Debi Prasad Mishra, Bikram Kesari Arukh, Cuttack MP Bhartruhari Mahtab and local MLA Pravat Ranjan Biswal, were present at the meeting.
Addressing the gathering, Arun Sahu said: “People have faith in the BJD as the party has always worked for the all-round development of Odisha, while parties such as the Congress and the BJP have failed the people of the state.”
The party leaders also highlighted the achievements of the BJD government.
“Our government has already initiated measures for an integrated sanitation project funded by the Japan International Co-operation Agency, while efforts are on to make Cuttack slum-free,” said urban development minister Debi Prasad Mishra.
Naveen today covered prominent wards including Kanheipur, Bidyadharpur, Mahanadi Vihar, Chauliaganj, Shankarpur and Khannagar.
Star power of the ruling party, which has swept the urban polls earlier in other parts of the state, is on full display in Cuttack.
Matinee idol-turned-BJD leader Anubhav Mohanty organised a road show yesterday. Sources in the BJD said actors Munna Khan and comedian Papu Pom Pom would shortly join the campaign trail.
While veterans Samir De and Jual Oram are leading the BJP campaign, president of the City Congress Committee Mohammad Moquim is pulling out all stops to ensure the victory of party candidates.
“Senior leaders, including Union minister Srikant Jena and state Congress chief Jaydev Jena, will join the campaign. Our focus is on reaching out to the people and highlighting the failures of the BJD government,” said Moquim.
Odisha Jan Morcha, which has fielded candidates in 22 of the city’s 59 wards, is also confident of putting up a good show. Morcha chief Pyari Mohan Mohapatra took a dig at the chief minister saying that neither Naveen magic nor BJD’s star power would work in Cuttack. He said that Morcha candidates were getting a good response in the campaign trail.