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BJP BJD Sharpen Attack

Padampur: With the nearing of voting day for Padampur by-poll, both the BJD and BJP have sharpened their targets against each other.

After the BJD tasted its first bypoll defeat since 2009 earlier this month, the December 5 by-election to the Padampur Assembly seat in Odisha has become a prestige issue for the ruling BJD which is going all out to retain the constituency.

Buoyed by the win in the Dhamnagar bypoll on November 6, the BJP is also leaving no stone unturned to wrest the rural constituency from the party led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

The Congress is also optimistic to turn the tables this time and attack both the saffron party and the BJD over farmers’ issues.

In a bid to woo voters, all three major parties, during the ongoing campaign, are highlighting the issues faced by farmers of Padampur where over 80 per cent of the residents depend on agriculture and allied sector.

Inadequate minimum support price, low wage of kendu leaf pluckers, mismanagement in paddy procurement, and delay in crop insurance claim settlement and input subsidy payment for drought-hit farmers are among the farmers’ issues, pointed out Jay Narayan Mishra, Leader of Opposition.

Politicians are also harping on the issues such as the demand for a separate Padampur district carving out of the existing Bargarh and migration of local youths are also took the centre stage in the campaign.

Accusing the Centre of neglecting the demand of Odisha people, the Governing BJD raked up the “shelved” Bargarh-Nuapada via Padampur railway project to target the BJP, while the BJP Leaders alleged that the proposed scheme could not be implemented due to callous approach of the Naveen Patnaik Government.

Saffron Brigade has stepped up the campaign for BJP candidate Pradip Purohit, the party’s Odisha unit Krushak Morcha President.

Similarly, at least 10 ministers and nearly three dozen MLAs of the BJD descended on the battleground to canvass for party nominee Barsha Singh Bariha, the elder daughter of MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha whose death necessitated the by-poll.

Ms.Barsha belongs to Binjhal community, one of the three major tribal communities dominant in the assembly constituency, while her two opponents are from the general category.

Even though her father was a five-time MLA and had won the seat by a margin of over 5,000 votes last time, the BJD’s greenhorn nominee is facing a tough challenge from Mr.Purohit, a product of a farmers’ agitation against mining, who is seeking another term after having won the seat in 2014.

AICC in-charge of Odisha A Chella Kumar, Odisha Congress President Sarat Pattnayak and senior leaders Jaydev Jena and Niranjan Patnaik were seen electioneering for party candidate Satya Bhusan Sahu who had previously won the seat three times.

 “All the three blocks of the constituency – Padampur, Paikmal and Jharabandha – are prone to drought as there is hardly any irrigation facility in the area. Jharbandh is Maoist affected area.

Though the BJD Government had announced that it would ensure 35 per cent of the cultivable land to be irrigated by 2010, nothing happened here, alleged veteran Congress Lawmaker Narasingha Mishra blaming the BJD Government for the miseries of farmers.

Migration of local people is a major issue as they have no alternative livelihood other than cultivation, he said.

More than 30,000 youth from Padampur migrated to other states like Andhra Pradesh, Telengana in the last year.

All three major parties have been trying hard to woo these migrant workers, promising them schemes so that they can get livelihood opportunities in their native places.

Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan sharpened his attack on the BJD Government and directly attacked Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Addressing an election rally, Mr.Pradhan on Tuesday accused the BJD government in Odisha of looting the farmers in collusion with millers.

Mr.Pradhan said while the Narendra Modi Government at the Centre has been providing money for farmers, the ruling BJD is busy looting it with the help of millers.

“Though the Centre is allocating money for farmers, the State Government has colluded with millers to loot the farmers,” Dharmendra alleged, hitting out at the Chief Minister

Claiming that CM Naveen Patnaik had promised to provide Rs 100 bonus to the farmers over and above the MSP fixed for paddy, the senior BJP leader sought to know as what has happened to his assurance. He also sought to know how much fund the State has allocated for the farmers.

The BJP leader further attacked the Chief Minister saying he has never met the Prime Minister for discussion on the paddy procurement issue.

“You have been to Delhi on several occasions and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I have never read in any newspaper about you complaining to the PM regarding the paddy procurement problem in Odisha nor have I ever heard you giving any statement on this before the media,” he said.

Hitting out Minister Health & FW Naba Kishor Das, the Union Minister said, “Those who have been responsible for the drowning of JB Patnaik Government, now taking the lead role in this Government.”

On the other hand, BJD leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sasmit Patra said that the BJP is trying to turn Odisha into Uttar Pradesh or Bihar by indulging in electoral and political violence which is not the culture of Odisha.

In the last 24 hours the lawless behavior of the BJP in Padampur by-poll has come out strongly before the people of Odisha and their mask has fallen off.

“When there were IT raids yesterday morning at three locations in Padampur, not a single BJD worker or leader was seen at the locations. But yesterday evening, when GST raids were conducted in a cloth store in Padampur, three BJP leaders namely Thakur Ranjit Das, Pinky Pradhan and Kalindi Samal verbally assaulted the GST officials and obstructed them from discharging their Government duty,” he said.

The BJD has demanded that the CEO and the Election Commission take strong action to ensure that this lawless behavior of BJP is stopped so that the people of Padampur can have a free and fair by-poll.

The BJD also demanded that these four BJP leaders Thakur Ranjit Das, Pinky Pradhan, Kalindi Samal and MLA Kusum Tete be banned from campaigning in the Padampur by-poll and asked to leave the Padampur assembly constituency where the Padampur by-poll is ongoing.