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Local issues take centre stage in Cuttack polls

Cuttack, Feb. 1: The drubbing Congress and the BJP got in the hands of the BJD in the recent Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation elections is likely to cast its shadow on the February 6 civic polls here.

Congress leaders, however, feel that the party’s poor show in Bhubaneswar (two seats as compared to BJD’s 49) will have no adverse effects on its prospects in Cuttack.

The BJP is also putting up a cool front. “The BJD’s money and muscle power will not work in Cuttack,” said state BJP president Kanak Vardan Singh Deo.

BJP won from just four wards and this is a slide from its nine seats in 2009.

In 2009, the BJD won 37 of Cuttack’s 54 wards. The Congress had won eight wards, the BJP won two and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) one. The number of wards this time is 59 following de-limitation. Though Independents had won six wards last time, two of them had won with the support of BJD and BJP respectively. The four other Independent councillors had joined the BJD, taking the party’s strength to 42. Later, three councillors — one each from Congress, the BJP and the NCP — crossed over to the BJD, increasing the party tally to 45. However, two councillors later left the BJD.

Cuttack Congress Committee president Md Moquim said: “The party’s poor show in Bhubaneswar will be inconsequential as Cuttack civic polls are dominated by local issues of an altogether different nature.” Congress has re-nominated two of its councillors and fielded candidates from all 59 wards.

BJP state general secretary Nayan Kishore Mohanty, who is in charge of the 22 wards under Choudwar Cuttack Assembly constituency, said: “The common man has not been satisfied with the functioning of the corporation here. Hence, local issues will be a deciding factor.”

Senior BJP leader and former Cuttack City MLA Samir Dey said: “The BJD does not have much to say about its achievements during the past five years. Most of the projects the BJD is trying to take credit for were initiated during the previous BJP-led council. But, the BJD-ruled council had failed to implement them in past five years, resulting in cost escalation.”

Dey’s accusation was pointed at BJD’s bid to make implementation of Japan International Co-Operation Agency project for construction of sewerage and drainage system in the city and the recent foundation stone laying of a water project for water supply augmentation issues during the campaign.

However, BJD general secretary and Barabati Cuttack MLA Debashis Samantaray said: “The focus of our campaign is the BJD’s commitment to maintain the pace of all-round progress and development of the city that has been initiated in the past five years by the municipal council ruled by our party.”

Naveen road show

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik today started his road show for the civic poll campaigning from Rajabagicha and covered several wards, including Pithapur, Jhanjirmangala, Seminary Chhak, Buxi Bazar, Dargha Bazar, Chandini Chowk and Dagarpara.

In today’s whirlwind tour, Naveen covered nearly 15 wards under the Barabati-Cuttack Assembly constituency.

“I expect the BJD will do well in the elections,” he said.

“People of Cuttack have appreciated the efforts and development works undertaken by the BJD. We are confident that our candidates will do better here,” said BJD MP Bhatruhari Mahatab.

Urban development minster Debi Prasad Mishra, who also accompanied Naveen in his campaign trail today, said that other Opposition parties had become almost ineffective in the state.

Naveen is also scheduled to campaign here on Monday.