Rashmi Ranjan

The BJP on Friday said central ministers Ashwini Vaishnaw and Narendra Singh Tomar will campaign for its candidate for the upcoming bypoll to Padampur assembly constituency in Odisha's Bargarh district and highlight how "non-cooperation" from ruling BJD resulted in delay in a railway project and crop insurance payment.

Vaishnaw, the railway minister, and Tomar, the minister for agriculture and farmers' welfare, will canvass for the saffron party's nominee Pradip Purohit on Sunday.

The two central ministers have been inducted in the election campaign for the saffron camp as the BJD raked up issues, such as delay in payment of crop insurance claims by farmers and a proposed rail line connecting Bargarh with Nuapada Road via Padampur, ahead of the December 5 by-election, BJP's state unit general secretary Golak Mohapatra said.

He also mentioned that BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda and party spokesperson Sambit Patra will also campaign in the poll-bound constituency on Saturday.

In a statement, the saffron party accused the BJD of "misleading people of Odisha, particularly, the voters of Padampur" by raking up the railway project issue ahead of the by-poll, and claimed that crop insurance payment has been delayed by the state's BJD government as the Centre has "cleared funds".

During the campaign, Tomar is expected to speak on how "non-cooperation from the state government resulted in the delay in farmers' crop insurance claim payments, the state BJP functionary said.

Vaishnaw will speak on "how the proposed rail project could not be implemented due to lack of cooperation from the state", he said.

The railway project was accorded permission by the Centre in 2021, but "no progress was made due to lack of land" required for the purpose, the BJP leader said.

The 142-kilometre new broad-gauge line between Bargarh Road to Nuapada Road stations via Padampur was sanctioned in 2018, but later was "shelved by the Centre", state Commerce and Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu had recently said.

Noting that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, since 2018, has been requesting the Centre for the sanction of the railway project, the BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty said it "has not seen the light of the day so far which is one of the instances of the Centre's negligence towards people of Odisha and Padampur in particular".

"CM Patnaik had not only approved free land for the entire project but also pledged Rs 300 crore for construction," Mohanty had said.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJD also launched a campaign in Padampur for its candidate Barsha Singh Bariha with several ministers and many MLAs canvassing for her.

Senior Congress leaders from the state, including OPCC president Sarat Pattnayak, are also canvassing for party nominee Satya Bhasan Sahu.

The by-poll to Padampur assembly segment was necessitated by the death of MLA Bijaya Ranjan Singh Bariha on October 3.