OD-PATNAIK-CAMPAIGN

Voters of Naveen Patnaik's two assembly seats wish direct
communication with him
Hinjili/Bijepur (Odisha), Apr 15 (PTI) The people of
Hinjili and Bijepur assembly segments in Odisha have a common
complaint against BJD candidate and Chief Minister Naveen
Patnaik that they have seen him in television and posters
numerous times, they want to have a face-to-face interaction
with him.
    Though people of both the assembly segments are happy
that the chief minister is contesting from their areas, they
rue that they hardly find Patnaik canvassing for votes like
nominees of rivals-- BJP and Congress.
    Patnaik has been elected to the state assembly four
times in a row from Hinjili in Ganjam district since 2000.
In addition to seeking a fifth term from the seat,
this time he has also entered into fray from Bijepur, a key
assembly constituency in western Odisha.
    Polling in both Hinjili and Bijepur assembly seats
will take place in the second phase on April 18.
While Hinjili is 175 KM from Bhubaneshwar, the
distance between the state capital and Bijepur is 348 KM.
BJD leaders, including ministers are campaigning
for Patnaik. But, people are not happy as they want to see the
Biju Janata Dal chief in their villages.
"We have seen the chief minister in television and
posters, but not in person. We are his strong supporters, but
unable to see him," said Rukmani Sahu, a 35-year-old woman
self help group member at Shergada. Many others echoed similar
views.
    Patnaik on April 13 held a roadshow in urban pockets
of Hinjili and sought blessings of the people. His roadshow
was confined to two blocks of Hinjili and Shergada. But, the
constituency is spread over 35 gram panchayats.
    Apana mane mote ashirbad karantu, sankha chinhare
vote diantu (Please bless me and vote on conch symbol),
Patnaik said in Odia during the roadshow.
    People from different villages came to urban area
to have a glimpse of Patnaik, but many others could not make
it to the occasion. People in villages are keen to see the BJD
chief undertake door-to-door campaign in rural areas, Sahu
said.
The people of Hinjili have no grievance about essential
needs like roads, pipe water, electicity, teachers in schools,
doctors in hosptals and PDS quota of cheap rice.
However, some of them complained that many farmers have
not received the benefits of the KALIA scheme, a government
scheme of direct benefit to the farmers.
    Opposition BJP nominee Pitambar Acharya, a senior
Orissa High Court advocate, has been using the peoples
complaint about Patnaik's absence in his favour.
"I am getting maximum response from voters in villages.
The people have not seen the BJD candidate and cannot talk to
him in Odia as Patnaik hardly speaks in the local language,"
Acharya, a greenhorn, said.
    Exuding confidence that the people of Hinjili would
this time vote for BJP, Acharya said: "The farmers of Hinjili
have been cheated as they could not get financial assistance
under KALIA scheme."
    While both the Congress and BJP candidates in 2014
polls lost their deposits fighting against the chief
minister, Acharya claims he will win the polls by a margin of
above 40,000.
    Congress has fielded its former Ganjam district
president Sambhunath Panigrahi, a local leader. The Congress
candidate is seeking mandate highlighting his local identity.
"While BJD candidate stays in Bhubnaneswar, the BJP
nominee comes from Cuttack. I am always with the people of
Hinjili," Panigrahi said.
In 2014 election, Patnaik had defeated Congress
candidate Sibaram Patra by 76,586 votes.
Similar is the situation in Bijepur in Bargarh district
as the assembly segment has been witnessing a low key
campaign.
Bijepur's sitting MLA Rita Sahu, Odisha Minister
Sushant Singh, Rajya Sabha MP and BJD's Bargarh Lok Sabha
candidate Prasanna Acharya are going round the constituency
and campaigning for Patnaik.
    "We are getting tremendous response from the people
in support of the chief minister. There should be no doubt
that BJD will win Bijepur seat with record margin," said Rita
Sahu while minister Sushant Singh claims that people will vote
only for BJD as the chief minister is their candidate.
    Patnaik on Monday held public meetings in Bargarh Lok
Sabha segment and plans to undertake campaigning in Bijepur on
Tuesday.
    Congress has fielded former MLA Ripunath Seth in
Bijepur, a local man. BJP pitted Sanat Gadtia against the
chief minister. He is the nephew of Nityananda Gadtia who was
Bijepur MLA from 1977 to 1980 as a Janata Party nominee.
BJD spokesperson Dr Sasmit Patra said: "People are proud
to get the chief minister as their candidate. The chief
minister is always with the people of Hinjili and Bijepur. All
their grievances are being heard and the CM personally looks
after development of both the places.
The CM has already campaigned in Hinjili and likely to
undertake one in Bijepur tomorrow. He is very much with the
people." PTI AAM SKN
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