It’s a battle of wits and oratory skills in Puri, a prestigious Lok Sabha constituency in Odisha.
Verbal duels have taken centre stage in the poll campaign as three mainstream political parties — Biju Janata Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress — have fielded their key spokespersons — Pinaki Mishra, Sambit Patra and Satya Prakash Nayak respectively — from this coastal constituency.
All three spokespersons have not lost a single chance to throw verbal volleys at each other. Two debutants, Mr. Patra (BJP) and Mr. Nayak (Congress), are pitted against three-time Lok Sabha member Pinaki Mishra. As the campaign picks up, the communication proficiency of the candidates, which has so far been visible in TV studios, is increasingly being put to test on the ground.
“It’s a battle for who can really work for the people of Odisha. I am not just a spokesperson of the BJP, but also a spokesperson of the poor and downtrodden,” Mr. Patra said.
‘Symbol of Odia pride’
“The people here are very happy with us. They see me as a symbol of Odia pride who fights for Odisha across the globe and talks about Odia culture,” said the BJP spokesperson.
Mr. Nayak, the chief spokesperson of the State Congress, attacked the sitting MP, BJD’s Pinaki Mishra, for not doing anything for the constituency. “Despite being a three-time MP from Puri, Pinaki Mishra has not done anything visible for Puri. He is like a migratory bird seen only during elections,” he said.
Mr. Mishra, meanwhile, ruled out any threat from Mr. Patra and Mr. Nayak in the elections. “The track record of Mr. Patra is that he has so far debated only in ‘godi channels’ (lap channels) where anchors don’t pose any serious questions. Let him debate with me, I will show him his place and tell him about my performance in Parliament,” he said.