Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday announced that he will contest Assembly polls from western Odisha’s Bijepur constituency along with his current seat Hinjili.
In the Bijepur Assembly bypolls last year, the ruling BJD posted a major victory over the BJP and the Congress.
Reacting to speculation that the Chief Minister will contest from the western Odisha seat, Congress leader Panchanan Kanungo had said on Sunday, “The BJD is terrified of the Congress victory in Chhattisgarh.” Chhattisgarh borders western Odisha. Click for more election news
Congress leaders said party chief Rahul Gandhi’s promises of a farm loan waiver and an MSP of Rs 2,600 per quintal of paddy, far more than the MSP of Rs 1,750 in Odisha, has had a “tremendous positive effect” in the western Odisha belt that has six Lok Sabha constituencies and 42 Assembly seats.
“The Congress had seen a surge immediately after those promises, but now that advantage is gone. In Chhattisgarh, procurement has fallen significantly as the state government is unable to pay promised prices. Western Odisha farmers know this now and appreciate KALIA more,” said Kalikesh Singh Deo, BJD MP from Balangir, also in western Odisha.
BJD leaders said Patnaik contesting from Bijepur will also quell any perception that theirs is a largely coastal Odisha party.
The BJD has, meanwhile, announced its candidates for Lok Sabha and Assembly polls for the first two phases. For Lok Sabha polls, the party has chosen Prasanna Acharya for Bargarh, Kalikesh Singh Deo (Balangir), Chandra Sekhar Sahu (Berhampur), Achyuta Samanta (Kandhamal), Sunita Biswal (Sundergarh), Pramila Bisoyi (Aska), Pushpendra Singh Deo (Kalahandi), Ramesh Majhi (Nabarangpur) and Kaushalya Hikaka (Koraput).
In Odisha, simultaneous polling for 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 Assembly constituencies will be held in four phases, starting April 11.