Himansu Shekhar Rout

Election campaigning by all major political parties has gathered momentum for the 2024 General Elections across Odisha. However, the sweltering heat induced by soaring mercury is reportedly posing a challenge, as many leaders are choosing morning and evening hours for campaigning. 

As per reports, after getting tickets, the leaders of the BJP, BJD and Congress have descended onto the ground for campaigning even as the mercury is hovering above 40 degrees Celsius.    

Recently in Puri, BJD’s MP candidate, Arup Patnaik was canvassing for votes at Pipili, when he fainted. Patnaik was immediately hospitalised and recovered later. 

The incident triggered panic among leaders, but they are now bound to get to the people to seek votes as time is running out.     

In view of the blazing summer heat, BJP’s MP candidate for Bolangir, Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo along with her supporters and workers is reportedly avoiding campaigning during noon time.

She is carrying out her campaign in the forenoon and afternoon. Singh Deo said, "Now due to severe heat people have to face problems. We are visiting villagers in the evening and campaigning till night.” 

Similarly, BJD’s MP candidate, Surendra Singh Bhoi has scheduled his campaigns in the morning or in the afternoon and that too under tents. It has been seen that people are scared of the heat wave and don’t come to the meetings in large numbers.

Surendra Singh Bhoi said, "We are trying to campaign between 9AM and 1 pm and then 5 pm or 6 pm till 10 -11 pm.”

Come rain or shine, the leaders have to deal with adverse conditions or else, they will not be able to catch up with the voters. 
Many leaders were seen taking precautions against the heat by covering their heads with white clothes and caps during campaigning. 

BJD leader Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak was seen campaigning for party candidates while braving the sizzling heat in the Rayagada district by holding an umbrella and covering his head with clothes. 

BJD’s Birmaharajpur candidate Padmanabh Behera was seen in a cap while visiting villages seeking votes. Behera said, "We are avoiding campaigning at the time when the heat is intense.” 

Congress nominee for the Kantabanji seat, Santosh Singh Saluja is holding meetings with party workers mostly in the evenings. 

"There is heat and shortage of water in the villages we visit. As a result, the campaign is getting affected,” said Saluja.
Voters are also worried about the heat wave. Voter Ghanashyam Bharasagar said, "They are fighting elections and will win. We have our lives. Look at the heat. Should we risk our lives in the heat wave?” 

Another voter Goura Suna said, "The temperature is so high that we are unable to stay long in a meeting. We have to leave the place early.”  

On the other hand, keeping the heat wave in mind, the ECI held a meeting with the India Meteorological Department, the National Disaster Management Authority, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and other stakeholders. 

A task force has been constituted to ensure measures at booths to ward off heat-related inconveniences. The ECI has directed the stakeholders to take stock of the situation in constituencies, give suggestions days before the polling and take precautionary measures.