All roads lead to Umerkote

Bhubaneswar: With the Chief Election Commissioner of India announcing the schedules for the by-election for the Umerkote reserved assembly constituency necessitated due to the unnatural death of BJD leader Jagabandhu Majhi, suddenly the political para has gone up in the state.

The clear front runner in the race, so far as campaigning is concerned, happens to be the BJP. The party candidate Dharmu Gonda was the runner-up last time and the party hopes that it can clinch the seat in the by-poll. The party has already intensified campaigning in 162 booths. Several party heavy weights like state chief Jual Oram, Chhatisgarh CM Raman Singh and ministers and MLAs would throw their weight behind Dharmu Gonda to snatch the seat away from the ruling BJD.

Both the BJP and the Congress, however, have not yet finalised their candidates. The Congress election committee led by tribal leader and senior MLA Dambarudhar Ulaka has, of course, submitted its report to the party. The high command in New Delhi- read Sonia Gandhi and her coterie-would finalise the name and the candidate in all likelihood would file the nomination on November 11.

The ruling BJD, due to infighting, too has not been able to announce its candidate. There are about 10 aspirants in the party. The 7-member poll committee headed by revenue minister Surya Narayan Patro recently met the party supremo and chief minister Naveen Pattanaik and urged him to finalise the name. The party is expected to announce the name of its candidate within a day or two. The election is slated for November 30 and filing of nominations have begun from November 5.