Business Standard, April 8, 2014
There are 688 aspirants for the 70 assembly constituencies under these Lok Sabha segments
After reaching a crescendo, the din and bustle of high voltage electioneering became to an end in 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats of Odisha today with polling scheduled in these constituencies spread over western and southern Odisha on April 10.Altogether 98 candidates, includingCongress stalwarts and former chief ministers Giridhar Gamang and Hemanand Biswal, former union ministers Jual Oram (BJP) and Bhakta Charan Das (Congress) are in the race from Bargarh, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Balangir, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal, Aska, Berhampur and Kalahandi parliamentary constituencies.
Hockey star and former Indian team captain Dilip Tirkey is contesting the election as a BJD candidate from Sundergarh Lok Sabha seat. He is pitted against Hemanand Biswal of Congress and BJP's Jual Oram.
Prominent Odia cinestar Siddhant Mohapatra is a BJD candidate from Berhampur Lok Sabha seat. There are 688 aspirants for the 70 assembly constituencies under these Lok Sabha segments. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is seeking re-election from Hinjili assembly constituency in Ganjam district and many state ministers were also in the fray. Among the other contestants are candidates of AAP, Odisha Janmorcha (OJM), Ama Odisha Party, Samata Kranti Dal, BSP, JMM and Trinamool Congress.
An electorate of 1.35 lakh voters is eligible to exercise their franchise on April 10. With several constituencies in these regions falling under Maoist-hit areas, where the red rebels have given a call for poll boycott, tight security arrangements were made with to prevent any untoward incident.
During the month-long campaigning, bigwigs of all political parties crisscrossed the constituencies making whistle-stop tours to woo the voters. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, BJP President Rajnath Singh, senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu addressed poll rallies to muster support for their respective party nominees.
For the ruling BJD in the state, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was the star campaigner. Two other chief ministers, Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh) and Hemant Soren (Jharkhand) also hit the campaign trail in the state. Electioneering had its share of glamour and glitz with actors and sports personalities participating in roadshows to regale voters.
While BJD targeted Congress accusing UPA government of neglecting the state, BJP levelled charges of corruption against both Congress and the BJD. Congress slammed the BJD government in Odisha accusing it of misrule and corruption. It promised to order a CBI probe into mining, chit fund and other scams that rocked Odisha in recent past. Polling in the remaining 11 Lok Sabha and 77 assembly constituencies in the state is scheduled to be held on April 17.