Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the poll day for Dhamnagar by-election nears, the campaign trail has gathered steam. And, the power show of BJD leaders of the neighboring Jajpur district has already created ripples in the political corridors.

Is Jajpur calling the shots in Dhamnagar? This is a question that has begun making rounds in the campaign. The allegation surfaced in a recent BJD meeting in Bhadrak where a party member expressed his dissatisfaction over excess meddling of party leaders from Jajpur in the by-election.

It is pertinent to mention here that Jajpur MLA Pranab Prakash Das, Dharmashala MLA Pranab Balabantray, Minister Pramila Mallick, Minister Pritiranjan Gharai, MLA Amar Satapathy, Karai MLA Ashok Bal, Bari MLA Sunanda Das, Lok Sabha MP Sarmistha Sethi and Rajya Sabha Member Sulata Deo, all these BJD leaders hail from Jajpur district and have been assigned major roles in party’s Dhamnagar bypoll campaign.

A local said, “During cyclone or floods, nobody from Jajpur comes to our aid. It is the leaders of Bhadrak and the district administration who help us. Jajpur leaders have come here only for votes. People won’t accept their fake assurances.”

Meanwhile, political mud-slinging has also begun over this issue. Senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition, Jayanarayan Mishra said, “Dhamnagar is a place which has produced great leaders. In fact, the constituency has provided three Chief Ministers to the State. There are a lot of able leaders here. We do not need leaders from other districts here.”

Congress MLA, Suresh Routray said, “We will not tolerate Jajpur leaders’ dominance in Bhadrak. People are unhappy over this issue. The BJD will surely pay for this.”

However, the BJD refuted reports of dissatisfaction among Dhamnagar voters over the issue. Replying to reporters’ query, senior BJD leader and Minister, Pramila Mallick said, "I don’t see any resentment among voters for Jajpur district. I have covered 7-8 panchayats during campaign today, but nobody said anything against Jajpur. So, these reports are baseless."

The voting for Dhamnagar bypoll will be conducted on November 3. While November 6 has been fixed for the counting of votes and announcement of results, November 8 has been set as the date for the completion of the election process.

(Reported by Partha Sarathi Nayak & Harihar Chand, OTV)