Bhubaneswar: Bijepur Assembly constituency under Bargarh Lok Sabha seat is set to witness a tough fight, which is going to the polls for the third time in less than two years.
All the three major political parties — the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have campaigned extensively for their party candidates ahead of the bypoll scheduled to be held on October 21.
However, it is believed that the real electoral battle is going to be fought between the BJP and the ruling BJD, like two previous elections in the constituency.
While BJD has fielded former MLA Rita Sahu, BJP has nominated Sanat Kumar Gartia and Congress has fielded Dillip Kumar Panda.
Rita Sahu, widow of three-time Congress legislator Subal Sahu, is facing a tough fight from Gartia, who had fought against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik during the 2019 Assembly elections.
Gartia had lost the seat by a margin of over 56,000 votes as he managed to get 53,482 votes (29 per cent).
The bypoll was necessitated after Naveen Patnaik vacated Bijepur and retained the Hinjili seat in Ganjam district from where he has been winning since 2000.
The BJP feels that people will bless its candidate this time as Gartia is a known face among the constituents while the state government, which had announced several projects in the last two years, has failed to execute the projects.
“Naveen Patnaik had contested the election to ensure development in the constituency. But, he betrayed the people of Bijepur by vacating the seat. Besides, the government has failed to carry out development works,” said state BJP President Basant Panda adding that the Bijepur people will give a befitting reply on October 21.
BJP has performed well in western Odisha during the Lok Sabha polls. It also won the Bargarh Lok Sabha seat. However, it failed to translate the same success in the Assembly segments.
Political pundits feel that the winning of the Bijepur Assembly seat by Rita Sahu may not be a smooth sailing this time as the sympathy wave, which she had got following the untimely death of her husband, is almost missing this time.
Rita Sahu had won the 2018 bye-poll by over 43,000 margin.
Congress leader Subal Sahu had successfully represented the seat from 2004 till his death in 2017. However, Naveen Patnaik imported his widow Rita Sahu and fielded in 2018 bypoll on a BJD ticket.
In order to repeat the success story this time as well, Naveen Patnaik, several ministers and other senior BJD leaders campaigned extensively in the constituency. The campaigning concluded on Saturday.
“I am 100 per cent confident of winning the election with the blessings of people and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The BJD is way ahead of the opposition in the election,” said Rita Sahu.
While the BJD and BJP led a high voltage campaign with the descending of union ministers and Naveen Patnaik, the Congress did rest its hope on state leaders, who canvassed in favour of Dillip Panda.
Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President Niranjan Patnaik and Congress legislatature party leader Narasingh Mishra and other senior leaders campaigned in the electioneering.
There are 2.32 lakh eligible voters including 1.20 lakh male and 1.12 lakh female who will exercise their franchise in 285 polling booths in the Assembly constituency, informed the Chief Electoral Office sources.
A total of 129 critical polling stations booths have been identified while CCTVs will be installed at 14 places. The counting of votes will be held on October 24.