Campaign hits high pitch in Odisha for phase 3



Poll campaign has hit a high pitch ahead of the third phase of polling for Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in Odisha scheduled for April 23.

Six Lok Sabha constituencies -- Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri, Sambalpur, Keonjhar and Dhenkanal -- will go to the polls along with the 42 Assembly segments in their jurisdiction on April 23.

Leaders of the three major political parties -- the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) -- are busy holding rallies and roadshows to woo the voters in favour of their party candidates.

BJD President and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik addressed public meetings in the Dhenkanal Lok Sabha constituency and targeted the Union government for no revision of coal royalty.

"The Central government is generating revenues worth thousands of crores of rupees from coal royalty in Odisha, but unfortunately the state is only getting pollution and dust in return," Patnaik said at an election rally in Talcher.

He said that companies such as Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) and NTPC were drawing huge benefits from their operations in the state, but no development work has been carried out in the peripheries by these firms.

The BJP, which is aiming to dethrone the Naveen Patnaik government in the state, too has intensified its campaign in the six Lok Sabha constituencies going to the polls in the third phase.

Addressing a rally in the Keonjhar Lok Sabha constituency, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan assured to set up a medical college and a steel plant in the area if the party came to power in Odisha.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Friday held several rallies across the state, canvassing for votes in favour of the BJP candidates. He addressed public meetings in Keonjhar, Cuttack and Puri parliamentary constituencies.

The Odisha Congress leaders also campaigned in different Assembly constituencies of the state. However, the Congress campaign was not as energetic as that of the BJP and the BJD, primarily due to the absence of its central leaders.

Even though the first two phases of Lok Sabha elections are over, the central leaders of the Congress, including party President Rahul Gandhi and other star campaigners, are yet to visit Odisha to accelerate campaigning. IANS