BJD will do better than last time in Orissa: Jay Panda

Bhubaneswar, March 29: The Biju Janata Dal will win the coming Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Odisha handsomely, prominent party leader Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda has said.

“By all indications, our prospects are indeed looking very good,” the 50-year-old Panda told IANS. Panda occasionally uses single-engine helicopter to travel. A licensed pilot, he himself pilots the chopper. Unlike many politicians, Panda makes it a point to extensively travel in his constituency, reaching out to his constituents in good and bad times.

Polling for the state’s 21 Lok Sabha and 147 assembly seats will be held simultaneously April 10 and 17. The BJD, which has ruled Odisha since 2000, won 103 assembly and 14 Lok Sabha seats in 2009.

An opinion poll about a fortnight ago predicted that the BJD could get the lion’s share of the state’s 17 Lok Sabha seats, leaving the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party with three seats and one seat respectively.

“I don’t want to speculate on the number of seats we will get this time. But I expect we will do even better than last time,” said Panda, a two-time Rajya Sabha member and a member of the outgoing Lok Sabha.

He is seeking a second term from the Kendrapada Lok Sabha constituency.

Panda said people will vote for the BJD because governance in the state had got better and better since the party came to power in 2000. In the past decade, the economy has grown at nearly double digits, Panda said. Odisha has also seen the maximum drop in poverty among all states in the entire country, he said.

“There has been a significant improvement in social indicators like primary education and infant and maternal mortality and so on,” said Panda, who holds degrees in engineering and management in communications from Michigan Technological University in the US.

“Despite the BJD being in government for three terms, all indicators are that it is again going to win handsomely,” said Panda.

The tech-savvy Panda extensively uses short message service (SMS) to connect with people and is also very active on social media.

Panda, who worked in the corporate sector before joining politics, faces five candidates in Kendrapada, including Dharanidhar Nayak of the Congress and the BJP’s Bishu Prasad Das.

But he is confident of winning again.

“My achievement has been to get long-proposed major infrastructure projects off the ground and into the construction stage.

“Construction of our first railway line has started, as has the Cuttack-Chandbali Expressway. Many other small and medium infrastructure projects are either under construction or have been completed.”

He said the first major industrial estate had been notified in his constituency and both private and public sector firms were showing keen interest.