The high decibel campaign ended at 5 pm on Tuesday for Odisha’s five Lok Sabha and 35 assembly seats where polling will be held in the second phase on April 18. A galaxy of high-profile leaders of major political parties like the BJP, the Congress and the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) undertook whirlwind tours of the constituencies, mostly situated in western and southern Odisha.
Polling in Bargarh, Sundergarh, Bolangir, Kandhamal and Aska Lok Sabha seats and 35 Assembly segments coming under these five constituencies will be held April 18.
Spearheading the campaign for the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah crisscrossed the poll-bound segments addressing a host of rallies. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and a number of Union ministers also hit the campaign trail in these seats for BJP.
Virtually camping in the state was Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who hails from Odisha, as the BJP is making all out efforts to put up a formidable challenge to the BJD, which has been in power since 2000.
The Congress campaign, on the other hand, was led by party president Rahul Gandhi who was joined by senior leaders like Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhepesh Baghel and Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Niranjan Patnaik.
For the ruling BJD, party president and state Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, seeking a fifth term this time, undertook extensive tours of the poll-bound areas.
The Congress and the BJP accused the BJD government of having failed to ensure development in the state despite being in power for 19 years. The BJD, on its part, charged the two parties with adopting step-motherly approach towards Odisha.
The second phase polling will decide the electoral fortune of 279 candidates – 35 in five Lok Sabha seats and 244 in 35 Assembly constituencies.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is contesting from his home turf Hinjili in Ganjam district and Bijepur in Bargarh.
While there are five women candidates in the five Lok Sabha seats, 25 women are in the fray for the 35 assembly segments.
The state has 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats.
Among others, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram of the BJP, BJD’s Rajya Sabha MPs Prasanna Acharya and Achyut Samant, BJP nominee and three-time MP Kharabela Swain are in the fray in the Lok Sabha polls.
As some areas under Kandhamal, Bargarh and Bolangir Lok Sabha constituencies are Maoist affected, tight security arrangements have been made there to ensure free, fair and peaceful poll, a senior police official said.
As many as 76,93,123 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the second phase.