Kendrapara : Chief Minister Naveen Patnaiik on Monday made a trip to 300-year-old Lord Baldevjew temple, the medieval Hindu shrine in Odisha’s Kenrapara district and announced Rs two crore package for renovation of the shrine and tourism infrastructure projects.
However Patnaik’s visit to Kendrapara is being viewed by many as a move consolidate BJD’s vote base and ensure the regional party’s victory in the politically-sensitive assembly seat. Earlier during the twin poll campaign trail, Patnaik had visited the temple and invoked divine blessings for the regional party’s poll victory.
Patnaik earlier on May 16 had made a trip to Kendrapara, one of the least cyclone-affected areas, to review the relief and restoration work.
Patnaik’s abrupt visit to Kendrapara has taken many by surprise given the fact that the coastal district was not badly affected by May 3 cyclone ‘Fani’ like Puri, Cuttack and Khurda districts. Chief Minister had visited Puri district while skipping trip to Khurda and Cuttack.
BJD supremo Patnaik had camped in Kendrapara and had hit campaign trail for two days. The constituency was literally under siege with dozens of heavyweight BJD leaders deployed across the seven assembly segments to ensure that BJD candidates win polls and BJP Lok Sabha candidate Baijayant Panda bites the dust on May 23. Travelling in an air-conditioned bus, Patnaik had conducted hectic roadshows across the parliamentary constituency. Patnaik’s poll campaign had paid rich dividends with BJD winning Lok Sabha seat and six assembly seats coming under it.
Critics tend to believe Patnaik had planned his visit to Kendrapara today with an eye on Patkura bye election likely to be held in coming month. Veteran politician and BJP candidate Bijoy Mohapatra, one of the vociferous critics of Patnaik, is contesting from the seat in his bid to make entry into State assembly
Mohapatra was one of the founders of the BJD but was unceremoniously ousted from the party by Naveen just before the 2000 assembly polls. Since then, he has not been able to make it to the State assembly.
Polling in Patkura Assembly seat was initially scheduled on April 29, but it could not be held because of the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwal on April 20. Then, the ECI had fixed May 19 as the new date for the polls in Patkura. However later it was further postponed following cyclone Fani barreling through coastal districts.
All the three major parties, BJD, Congress and BJP have fielded their candidates in Patkura. While BJD has fielded Agarwal’s wife Sabitri as its candidate for Patkura, senior leader Bijoy Mohapatra is the BJP nominee for the seat. Congress has named Jayant Mohanty as its candidate.