BJD campaign vehicles set to hit the streets in Bhubaneswar on Sunday. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee
Bhubaneswar, March 23: The stage is set for a hi-tech campaign in the state with the BJD taking the lead. The party today rolled out 70 special campaign vehicles, four-wheelers of different shapes and sizes, equipped with LED screens flashing pictures of its top icons — chief minister Naveen Patnaik and his father Biju Patnaik.
Almost synchronously, the sound amplifiers fitted on these poster-plastered vehicles blare out catchy slogans such as “Biju Janata Dal, Odisha basinka bal” (BJD is the strength of the people of Odisha) and “Odisha bikas ra mahanayak, Naveen Patnaik” (Naveen Patnaik, the super hero of Odisha’s development).
BJD sources said around 800 such vehicles would move out of Bhubaneswar over the next few days carrying the party’s campaign message to all corners of the state. “We are trying to reach each panchayat,” said a party leader. Apart from playing catchy songs highlighting the Biju legacy and the achievements of the BJD government, the mobile campaign would seek to attract voters through the recordings of Odisha matinee idol, Anubhav Mohanty, who has been promised a Rajya Sabha seat, and ace comedian Pappu Pom Pom.
The ruling party has lined up 40 star campaigners, including big names from the local film and TV industry such as Mihir Das and Satwaki Mishra apart from the two mentioned above. Among political heavyweights who would be pitching in for the party are recent recruits, former Congress leader Bhupinder Singh and former BJP leader Bimbadhar Kuanr, former India hockey skipper Dilip Tirkey, who is contesting from the Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat, and the ever popular, saffron-robed Prasanna Kumar Patasani, who is contesting the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat for the fifth time in a row.
The Congress, too, has sought to step up its campaign by plastering the state capital with posters that target the ruling party on high voltage issues such as the mining scam. The central theme of the party is the alleged loot of state’s minerals by a few families that have become super-rich while Odisha continues to reel from poverty. The party’s campaign is expected to receive a fillip when AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi visits the state in the last week of this month. It has also brought out posters on Re 1-a-kilo rice scheme, in which the Congress-led central government spends much more than the state government to make rice available at Re 1.
“Our campaign will also focus on how the state government has appropriated the central government schemes and is projecting them as its own,” said a senior Congress leader.
On the other hand, the BJP has already launched high-tech programmes apart from its tea-shop programmes. It has made an all-out effort, through posters, banners and electronic media to project its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as a man of development.
The list of party’s 40 star campaigners submitted to the Election Commission include state president K.V. Singh Deo, Biswabhusan Harichandan, Bijay Mohapatra and Dilip Ray. The party’s high-decibel campaign will focus on the NaMo factor and the failures of the BJD in the state and the Congress at the Centre.
The BJP today released names of candidates for four more Lok Sabha and 13 Assembly seats including two Assembly seats in Bhubaneswar city.
While former minister Samir Dey has been fielded from the Cuttack Lok Sabha seat, senior BJP leader Ashok Sahu will contest the from Puri. Senior BJP leader and former minister Biswa Bhushan Harichandan’s son Pruthviraj Hairchandan is the party candidate from the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat. He will lock horns with BJD’s Prasanna Patasani and Bijoy Mohanty of the Congress.
Another young BJP leader, Bishnu Das, will take on BJD’s Baijayant Panda in Kendrapada. The Congress is yet to announce its candidates for this Lok Sabha seat.