Puri: Amid simmering poll heat ahead of the scheduled by-election to the Pipili Assembly constituency in Puri on April 17, the appliqué town witnessed violence on Friday after a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) worker allegedly attacked a BJP campaigner at Raigiripur.
The incident catapulted BJP members led by its MLA candidate Ashrit Pattanayak to go on a sit-in before the local police station demanding immediate arrest of the accused.
As per sources, hostility came out of proportion during a campaign trail of Ashrit Pattanayak that begun from Sahajpur at 12 noon. The accused allegedly attacked the BJP member, identified as Chittaranjan Nayak when the rally was crossing Raigiripur.
The BJD worker, not only physically assaulted Nayak, but also broke his two-wheeler after a threat to end Nayak’s life.
A fuming BJP, held a sit-in protest initially at Raigiripur and later shifted their agitation to Pipili where they gheraoed the police station demanding immediate action against the assailant. However, they left the spot warning to stage another protest if their demands are not met within 24 hours.
Prithviraj Harichandan, State General Secretary of BJP said, “This attack suggests what to expect from the BJD in future. If the police do not keep its promise, we will again gherao the police station tomorrow.”
The spark of violence in Pipili meanwhile has attracted condemnations from across the party lines. Nishikant Mishra from Congress denounced the attack by saying, “Any kind of assault especially before the elections is highly condemnable and not good for democracy.”
However, the BJD refuted all the allegations levelled against the party. MLA Ananta Narayan Jena said, “BJP is scared of BJD and has brought this allegation fearing its defeat.”
Meanwhile, the campaigning by three major parties, BJD, BJP and Congress intensified on Friday. While BJD candidate Rudra Pratap Maharathy held a bike-rally in four Panchayats under Zilla Parishad Zone-22, BJP’s Ashrit Pattanayak held a door-to-door campaign in ZP zone-24. Similarly ZP zone-23 saw Congress candidate Ajit Mangaraj campaigning for the bypoll.
The day that marked an intense fight between three parties to win votes, also witnessed release of Star Campaigners’ names by both BJD and Congress.
Major names that adorned the list of Start Campaigners for BJD include, CM Naveen Patnaik, Pranab Prakash Das, Pramila Mallik, Samer Ranjan Dash and Maheswari Mohanty among others. BJD named two MPs, Pinaki Misra and Pratap Keshari Deb as the star campaigners as well.
Similarly, the Congress party named their State In-Charge, OPCC Chief Niranjan Patnaik and eight other MLAs as their star campaigners.
Interestingly, the BJD left out three party heavyweights from their list; Arun Sahu, Pratap Jena and Ranendra Pratap Swain.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Bharatiya Janata Party has already submitted its list of star campaigners with the Chief Electoral Officer.
(Edited By Suryakant Jena)