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Heat damper on election frenzy

- Scorching sun forces candidates to stay indoors during the day

Bhubaneswar, March 30: Political heat is definitely at its peak with elections less than a fortnight away. But, the rise in the mercury levels for about a week has thrown life in general as well as political campaigning out of gear.

The aam aadmi is queuing up in beelines outside lassi kiosks, while the traditional pakhal has entered the menu at home as well as in hotels. Even umbrellas, sunglasses, scarves are not helping as the sun is squeezing out every drop of water from the body in the afternoon hours. Empty roads in the capital city speak volumes about the scorching heat wave with the maximum temperature touching 42C today.

This was one of the highest daytime temperatures recorded in Bhubaneswar in March. This is only the fourth time the city has recorded a temperature of 42C in March since the inception of the regional centre of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) here in 1952. As per IMD data, the city recorded 42C only on March 18, 2004, March 30, 1991 and March 25, 1989.

Poll campaigning has been hit severely by the scorching weather. In Berhampur, which goes to polls on April 10, electioneering by the candidates of various political parties has been hit.

Subash Maharana, president BJD Ganjam unit, who is steering the electioneering of the party in Ganjam, said that they were forced to change the campaigning time because of the severe heat wave. “We are campaigning in two phases from 8am to 12 noon and from 4pm to 10pm every day,” he said.

However, Ramesh Chandra Chau Patnaik, who is contesting from the Berhampur Assembly seat for consecutive fifth time despite his ill health, preferred door-to-door campaign in the evening instead of roadside meetings.

In Sambalpur, with temperatures hovering around 40 and 41 degrees Celsius, election campaigning has turned out to be a tough task for the candidates of the political parties and their supporters. The political parties are thus seen campaigning either during the morning or evening. Even the campaigning vehicles of political parties are off the roads during the day.

“We start campaigning at 7am and take a break at 11.30am. In the evening, we campaign after 5pm,” said Pramod Saraf, a Congress leader.

“The morning and evening are the ideal for campaigning in this heat,” said BJP worker Surya Panigrahi.

The heat-wave-like condition may continue till the first week of April.