Campaign ends for 1st phase of Odisha panchayat polls

Bhubaneswar, Feb 11 (IANS) The campaign for the first phase of panchayat polls in Odisha concluded on Saturday with the three major political parties making last-minute efforts to woo the voters.

The polling for the first phase of panchayat elections would be held on February 13. The polls are scheduled to be held in five phases.

While Odisha Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) president Naveen Patnaik campaigned in his home constituency Hinjilikatu, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram led the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaign in Sundargarh district.

During the campaign, Naveen Patnaik embarked on a roadshow canvassing votes for the party candidates.

On the other hand, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Singh targetted the BJD government for politicising the Mahanadi issue.

“The people in Odisha want to know about what steps have been taken to address the migration problem, poverty, electricity, road and farming issues. But they are raising the Mahanadi issue at the time of panchayat polls to divert attention from the core issues,” said Singh.

In Bhubaneswar, Union Minister of State for Rural Development Ram Kripal Yadav targeted the ruling BJD for indulging in corruption and misutilising central funds in Odisha.

“The central government has been allocating enough funds to the Odisha government for rural development but there is no proper utilisation in implementing the developmental programmes as the bureaucrats and the ruling party leaders are busy in misappropriating a major chunk,” alleged Yadav.

Not staying behind in the electioneering process, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan campaigned at several places in the state. Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra campaigned extensively in Bolangir district.

“We are reaching out to people raising several issues. We are receiving massive response from people in the state,” said Mishra.

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission (SEC) on Saturday announced the preparations for the first phase panchayat polls.

“Elections will be held in 189 Zilla Parishad zones in 29 districts in which a total of 58,28,446 voters will exercise their franchise. Arrangements have been made for polling in 20,369 booths. The elections would be held in 1,506 Gram Panchayats,” said SEC secretary Rabindranath Sahu.