Biju Janata Dal president and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday undertook a 7-hour-long roadshow in the Aska parliamentary constituency in his home district of Ganjam .
The Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Congress too organised joint public meetings in Sanakhemundi and Polasara Assembly constituencies of the Aska Lok Sabha seat. The meetings were addressed by national secretary of the CPI Amarjeet Kaur and Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Niranjan Patnaik. The CPI, which is contesting the election with Congress support, has fielded Ramkrushna Panda for the Aska seat.
During his 60-km roadshow in a specially built bus, Mr Patnaik traversed through Sanakhemundi, Hinjli and Aska assembly constituencies to meet voters. He has won from Hinjli four times in a row. But this time, he is also contesting from the Bijepur Assembly seat in Bargarh district of western Odisha.
The Aska Lok Sabha seat has a special importance for Mr Patnaik as he had started his political career from here in 1997 with a win in the by-election held after the death of his father Biju Patnaik, who represented the constituency.
Reiterating its commitment to women’s emancipation, the BJD has fielded Pramila Bisoi, a 68-year-old Women Self Help Group (WSHG) leader from a peasant’s family with no political background, for the Aska Lok Sabha seat.
Ms. Bisoi accompanied Mr. Patnaik throughout the roadshow. The Chief Minister reached Mohanala in the Sanakhemundi block in a helicopter and boarded the campaign bus to start his long journey. Braving the scorching sun, hundreds of supporters, including women, stood on both sides of road to greet Mr Patnaik.
At several places, Mr Patnaik came to the top of the bus by a hydraulic lift to speak to the crowd. Everywhere, he said the 4.5 crore Odias were his family and he will work for them till his last breath. He did not hold any public meeting. According to BJD workers, his presence was sufficient to boost the morale of party workers and motivate the voters.
In the campaign meetings at Dengaosta under the Sanakhemundi block and Polasara, CPI and Congress leaders called upon voters to defeat both the BJP and the BJD. Ms. Kaur said the Congress and the CPI had joined hands to protect the Constitution and democracy. According to her, both the BJP-led Central government and BJD government in Odisha had to be changed.
Odisha PCC chief alleged that electoral promises of the BJP and the BJD were nothing but lies.