Bhubaneswar: With barely four days left for polling for the by-election to the reserved assembly constituency needed due to the untimely killing of Jagabandhu Majhi, all political roads in the State lead to the underdeveloped part of south Odisha. The captains of all the three major political parties, Naveen Pattanaik of the BJD, Niranjan Pattanaik of Congress and Jual Oram of BJP have jumped to campaign for their candidates.

Chief Minister and BJD supremo Mr. Naveen Patnaik, who injured his right ankle few days back and since then was holding his office at Naveen Niwas in Bhubaneswar, on Friday addressed two public meetings, one at Umerkote and the other at Raighar and urged the voters to cast their ballots in favour of BJD candidate Subhas Gond.

Mr. Naveen Patnaik started his address both at Umerkote and Raighar with scathing remarks on the BJP and the Congress for their patronage for corruption for which, he said, many senior leaders of both the parties are cooling their heels behind the bars.

Adding more Mr. Patnaik said, both the parties have made no contribution for development of the State and the backward people including the SC and the ST, while his Government has implemented a number of schemes for the benefit of the poor people. Mr. Patnaik also reminded the people of the Centre having withdrawn the KBK funds and refusal to accord special category status to the State, depriving the people of Odisha of their genuine rights.

Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra, and a host of party leaders were present during the high voltage campaigning. Several Cabinet Ministers and MLAs who have been campaigning at Umerkote for the last four days were also present.

State Congress Chief Niranjan Pattanaik was also present at Umerkote and was personally drawing strategy for his candidate, since it is the first election being held in the State after he took over the mantle from K P Singh Deo.

The BJP Chief Jual Oram on the other hand stressed on door to door campaign in the constituency. The BJP candidate was at the second spot in the last election and the party is hopeful of snatching away the seat from the BJD. With all the three parties putting up tribal Gond candidates in the fray, the Bengali settlers in Raighar belt are expected to play the deciding role in the outcome of the election.

In view of the bypoll, anti-Maoist operations in Nabarangpur district are apparently being withheld. . As on today, over 500 non-bailable warrants are pending without execution in Umerkote, where the by-poll will be conducted on November 30. State Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S Srinivasan has urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure sealing of the border with neighbouring Chhattisgarh.  

The Odisha Government’s problems in tackling the Maoist menace have increased as most of the Maoists are easily sneaking into Umerkote after the security forces in the neighbouring State conduct combing operations. Raighar block in Umerkote constituency is adjacent to Chhattisgarh and has turned out to be a safe haven for the Maoists, BJP State President Jual Oram had also alleged in a letter to the ECI.

Oram urged the ECI and the CEO to take up the issue with all seriousness as the ruling BJD is trying to take advantage of the situation. The Maoists have issued a veiled threat to at least six sarpanch’s of Raighar block against their participation in the poll process. At least 12 Samiti members have been warned just not to involve themselves in election activities. This has created terror among the other elected Panchayati Raj functionaries whereas Panchayati Raj Minister Mr. Maheswar Mohanty is urging them to come forward in favour of BJD candidate Subash Gond.