Mrunal Manmay Dash

Voters of Zone –A in Sundargarh’s Bisra Zilla Parishad are set for a tough time ahead in the Panchayat polls as they have to choose between nine candidates in fray for the seat.

Apart from three major parties, BJD, BJP, and Congress, there are contenders from JMM, CPI(M) and independents. The major face in the seat is former Raghunathpali MLA, Halu Mundari who is running for ZP seat from BJD this time around.

Speaking about his campaign, Mundari said, “I cannot say much about other party candidates, but I will definitely win this seat because of our leader CM Naveen Patnaik’s welfare schemes.” 

Now coming back to coastal Odisha, Marshaghai Zone-24 in Kendrapara too is witnessing a boil in politics as nine candidates have filed their nominations for the Zilla Parishad seat. A BJP bastion, Marshaghai Zone-24 has been led by a saffron party candidate, Prajesh Ranjan Nayak since 2017 polls.

Nayak who now aims to repeat his past result says, “The election will be fought between the BJP and BJD. Congress does not have any existence here. This seat has been under the power of BJP, so it will be easy for me to win this time too.”

A very similar kind of situation greets the voters of the Rayagada’s Kashipur Zone-B Zilla Parishad seat which is reserved for the women candidates from the Scheduled Cast. As per reports, no less than 10 SC women are running for the ZP seat, where highly educated independent candidates are set to give a tough challenge to major political parties.

Rinki Nayak, an independent candidate running for the seat said, “There is no bridge here for the people to commute. The villagers have to risk their lives by crossing the river to reach other places. It is too unfortunate that despite the local MLA hailing from the nearby village, this area remains undeveloped.”

Not only in ZPs but there are Gram panchayats where multiple candidates have filed their nominations for Sarpanch position that the voters are in a fix who to chose.

Jhankarpalli Gram Panchayat in Sambalpur sports record number of contenders for Sarpanch with 27 candidates in the fray. The seat was earlier reserved for SC women but this time around, the seat has been made unreserved opening scope for all to try their luck.

Similarly, Lochapada Panchayat under Kukudakhandi block near Berhampur is in the news because a total of 22 candidates are running for Sarpanch and Samiti member positions in the GP. While 11 persons are eyeing the Sarpanch position, the same numbers of aspirants are running for Samiti Member.

The running of so many candidates have not only made the door-to-door campaigning an intense affair for the voters, some also feel that people will ultimately get confused in casting their votes.

A voter in Lochapada said, “When I look around the posters and banners hung around the area, I get overwhelmed. I am sure, people will definitely get a hard time remembering all these names and the symbols associated with them. It will be very difficult to cast their votes”

The three-tier Panchayat polls will be held in Odisha from February 16, 2022. The polling will be held with a gap of one day between each date on February 16, 18, 20, 22, and 24.