STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Bhubaneswar, 11 November
The state Congress cut a sorry figure yet again as it failed to field candidates in all the wards of the 20 urban local bodies in western parts of Odisha which go to polls on 22 November.
The ruling BJD has set up candidates in each and every ward and even won five  ~ two each in Tarbha and Bargarh and one in Binka notified area councils uncontested.
OPCC chief Jayadev Jena who has failed to carry all sections of the party with him till date found that even the BJP had fielded candidates in as many as 268 wards  ~ twenty eight more than the Congress.
A total of 1185 nominations were found valid after 78 candidates withdrew from the contest today, informed sources at the State Election Commission.
The ruling BJD is streets ahead of the BJP and the Congress in getting its act together in a systematic manner. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has already assigned each district to his ministers and legislators and asked them to camp there for the elections.
Congress which had done well in western parts of the state in the 2009 general elections is yet to work on its campaign strategy. The party has several MP&’s from the region like Amar Pradhan, Hemananda Biswal, Sanjay Bhoi, Bhakta Charan Das. Both the Congress and the BJP are said to be strong in western parts of the state when compared to the ruling BJD.
Political circles believe that one of the reasons why the BJD was keen on a staggered ULB polls ~ with the coastal belt first in September and the western parts in November was that it could concentrated better and mobilize all its resources. Ministers who were busy in coastal belt are now going to camp in western Odisha, the CM himself can campaign in each and every ULB, they noted.
OPCC chief Jena, however, put up a brave front today saying his party was fully prepared. There are several issues, Naveen Patnaik is giving us a issue every day, he remarked while referring to the potato and the salt crisis. The BJD betrayed the people of western Odisha on their demand for a permanent bench of the High Court, he said while listing out the campaign issues.
The BJP which has a decent presence in parts of western Odisha is also lagging behind as it was not in favor of ULB elections being held in view of the agitation for a permanent bench of the High Court. The party had requested the state election commission to defer the elections.
Now state BJP president K V Singh Deo who hails from the region has to work overtime to retain the party&’s position in the region. The BJP had fared miserably in the 66 ULBs where polls were held in September.