Campaign for the first phase of polls in Odisha ended on Tuesday with Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik seeking people’s blessings for his party nominees in Kalahandi and meeting the Chief Electoral Officer to express disappointment over stoppage of the Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation scheme in the city.
After leading a party delegation to the CEO, Mr. Patnaik also released the BJD manifesto at the party headquarters here, making a series of assurances to farmers, women, youth, and overall development of the State.
Polling is scheduled to be held simultaneously in four Lok Sabha seats – Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Koraput and Berhampur – and 28 Assembly constituencies in the first phase on Thursday.
The candidates belonging to the BJD, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are the major contenders for all the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi had also addressed rallies in support of their party nominees in the region.
Addressing a rally in Kalahandi district earlier in the day, Mr. Patnaik promised that if voted to power the government will provide work worth ₹5,000 crore to women self-help groups running under Mission Shakti, a programme under which more than 70 lakh women are its members in the State.
The BJD chief also promised to hike the assistance for medical treatment of women under the existing Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana from ₹7 lakh to ₹10 lakh.
Mr. Patnaik assured people to make girls’ education from “kindergarten to college”, including professional courses such as medical and engineering, free, and financial assistance of ₹ 25,000 for marriage of girls belonging to poor families.
The BJD reiterated its allegation that successive governments at the Centre have always neglected the rights of Odisha.
Stating that the neglect has led to Odisha being at the bottom of all Central subjects like telecom, railways, banking and national highways, the party said that special category status is the only way to rectify the “historic neglect” that the State has suffered.
Observing that no national party will get majority on its own to form government at the Centre in the current polls, the party announced that the BJD will support a government that supports the legitimate rights of Odisha.