Pradeep Singh

The State Election Commissioner Aditya Prasad Padhi on Tuesday declared dates for the Panchayat polls in Odisha. In view of the Covid-19 situation, the Commission also announced a slew of guidelines to be strictly followed during the entire election process- from filing of nomination by candidates to counting of votes.

Meanwhile, the main Opposition parties in the State, the BJP and Congress today claimed that they will thwart the game plan of the ruling BJD and emerge victorious in the rural body polls. While Congress said that it is fully prepared for the elections, the BJP stated that the reservation issue for backward classes will boomerang on the BJD.

Senior BJP leader and Opposition Chief Whip Mohan Majhi said, "We are fully prepared for the three-tier Panchayat elections. But the BJD played a key role in the withdrawal of reservations for OBC and ST/SC, which will now deprive around 78 per cent people of their Constitutional rights."

That's the reason why the BJP had demanded to settle the quota issue first before go for the polls, said Majhi. "Besides, we had demanded to postpone the polls by 2-3 months in view of the Covid-19 situation in the State. Nevertheless, we are fully prepared. Even though the Odisha government has announced several sops and financial assistance to lure voters, we will come out with flying colours in the polls," he said.

Welcoming the move to hold the three-tier Panchayat polls in February, Congress MLA Sura Routray claimed that the party will come out victorious in the polls convincingly. "We are also prepared for the elections. We have strengthened ourselves at the grassroots level and it will help us win the elections," said Routray.

He further said that people are fed up with the present inflation. Prices of vegetables, pulses, spices and all other items have gone up under this government, said the senior Congress leader cautioning all to remain alert and follow Covid appropriate behaviour during the polls.

Meanwhile, BJD MP Amar Satapathy said that his party will strictly adhere to the Covid guidelines and fully cooperate with the Election Commission in the smooth conduct of the polls. "We will carry out door-to-door campaigns and confident of doing even better than the previous Panchayat polls," claimed the Parliamentarian.

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