Stage set for D-day

Bhubaneswar: The stage is all set for urban local body (ULB) elections in the State on September 19 with political parties today ending days of high-voltage electioneering for their candidates.

With an intend to prove their mettle ahead of 2014 Assembly elections, three major parties – BJD, Congress and BJP – were seen making last minute attempt to woo voters on the final day of campaigning.

BJD president and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who pursued a frantic schedule canvassing for party candidates, toady toured Ganjam district addressing public meetings at Rambha, Purusottampur, Chhatrapur, Kodala and Khallikote.

Patnaik, who attracted a huge crowd during electioneering, targeted the UPA government at the Centre and accused Congress of neglecting Odisha and sought votes for the BJD candidates for “development of the State”.

Many ministers, MPs, MLAs and senior leaders of the ruling party also threw their weight behind the party candidates. BJD also engaged popular Odia film stars incuding Anubhav Mohanty, Siddhant Mohapatra (also BJD MP) into campaigning.

Even as Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BMC), the only corporation in the State to hold election along with other urban bodies, has turned an acid test for BJD and Congress, Congress is making all-out-efforts to register victory in the corporation.

While many heavyweight leaders have already campaigned for the party in the 40-ward corporation, Odisha in-charge B K Hariprasad reached there today to seek votes for the party candidates.

He addressed roadshows and public gatherings, which were attended by PCC president Jayadev Jena, Leader of Opposition in State Assembly Bhupinder Singh, former chief minister Giridhari Gamang, former union minister Chandrasekhar Sahu, veteran leaders Narasingh Mishra, Lulu Mohapatra, Prasad Harichandan among others.

Opposition Congress highlighted corruption, inefficiencies and rise in the crimes against women as main election issues.

BJP also ended its campaign trail boasting of success in the polls. The party is expecting to cash in on the “popularity” of Narendra Modi, who was recently anointed the saffron party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The polls will be held in 66 urban local bodies excluding ULBs in western Odisha, where political parties boycotted the elections supporting the demand for permanent bench of Orissa High Court in the region.