Local issues dominate Umerkote bypoll

Nabarangpur: Local issues dominate the campaigning of both Congress and BJP for the bypoll in Umarkote assembly constituency in Odisha on November 30.

The two national parties are focussing on local issues as it would influence locals, majority of whom are illiterate and have little knowledge about national and state issues. Leaders of both parties are highlighting growing crimes, including murder and exploitation of tribals, during the two and half year tenure of BJD MLA Jagabandhu Majhi, who was gunned down by suspected Maoists on September 24.

For the ruling BJD, local leaders are awaiting the arrival of their stalwarts including ministers, MPs and MLAs. Having already completed their party workers meetings, Congress and BJP are now moving to villages in Maoist infested Raighar and Umarkote blocks for campaign.

BJP candidate Dharmu Gond, who lost the polls in 2009 general elections, is confident of victory. "Different sections of people were exploited and harassed like anything. At least 12 tribal people belonging to Gond community were murdered during last two years," he alleged.

Dharmu claimed that peace in the area was disturbed by local BJD leaders. BJP`s state Vice-president, Ashok Sahu, who has been camping from the day of nomination, also raised issues of corruption during BJD rule in the state and Congress-led UPA Government at the centre.

Similarly, Congress which is slowly making inroads to rural areas has also been raising local issues. PCC President Niranjan Patnaik, said Congress would make the killing of 12 tribals and exploitation on poor during BJD rule its main poll plank.