Bhubaneswar, April 12 IANS | 8 months ago

Campaigning for the second and last phase of simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and state assembly in Odisha to be held April 17 picked up Saturday, with several parties making efforts to woo voters.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has been addressing around 10 rallies every day.

The Biju Janata Dal leader is banking on his government's achievements, including the the Re.1 per kg rice scheme and health insurance for farmers among many others.

"On an average, the chief minister is addressing at least 10 rallies daily. He is scheduled to address 10 public meetings in districts of Angul and Dhenkanal districts Saturday," an official told IANS.

Patnaik, also scheduled to hold a road show in Cuttack, is highlighting the successful handling of the Cyclone Phailin last year by his government.

On Friday, he addressed 14 rallies in Puri district.

BJD vice president Surya Narayan Patro said people will vote for his party because of Patnaik's "clean image".

He said the rice scheme was benefiting six million poor people and the insurance cover provided to six million farmers will ensure a win for his party for the fourth term.

Patro said the government has also been providing monthly pension to two million elderly people.

However, the main rivals Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress have been speaking about the failures of the Patnaik government.

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi addressed a series of rallies in the state Friday.

At a rally in Balasore, about 200 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, Gandhi Friday said the centre provided thousands of crores of rupees worth assistance to the state under various programmes but they were not implemented properly.

Accusing the BJD of being corrupt, Gandhi said nearly 4,000 farmers have been forced to commit suicide in the state because of the "anti-farmer policies" of the BJD.

She also spoke about scams related to mining, chit funds, mid-day meals and rural jobs.

Modi, addressing a rally at the same town, criticised Patnaik for his inability to speak Odia, the state's mother tongue.

"You elected a government that neither understands your language nor your pain," he said.

Despite a heat wave and mercury shooting up to 40 degrees Celsius and above in many places, political parties are leaving no stone unturned to reach out to voters.

State BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and former Jharkhand chief minister Arjun Munda are scheduled to campaign for the party Sunday.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is also scheduled to campaign for the party's candidates a day later.

Polling was held Thursday for 10 Lok Sabha and 70 assembly seats. The voting percentage in the first phase was around 75 percent.

Balloting for the remaining 11 Lok Sabha and 77 assembly seats would be held April 17. In the 2009 election, 65.3 percent of the electorate had exercised their franchise.

Prominent leader who will test their luck in the second phase include union minister Srikanta Jena, industrialist turned politician Baijayant Jay Panda and editors of local newspapers Soumya Ranjan Patnaik, Tathagata Satapathy and Bhartruhari Mahtab.

(Posted on 12-04-2014)

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