Padampur By-Election 2022: The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are busy wooing different communities in their election campaign for the Padampur seat in western Odisha’s Bargarh district to be held on December 5. However, caste politics has been dominant in Odisha and caste politics prevails here too. In view of this, as the date of polling draws near, both the parties are holding meetings of different communities near the Lord Nrisimhnath temple located at the foothills of Gandhamardan mountain.
Of the total 2.57 lakh voters in Bargarh district, 29 per cent are tribals. Padampur seat was reserved for Scheduled Tribes till 2009 but now it is a general seat. This seat has been occupied by the Bariha family who belong to the Binjhal community.
The seat fell vacant after the demise of BJD leader Bijay Ranj Singh Birha.
Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha has been a five-time MLA from this seat and due to his death in October, a by-election is being held on this seat. Earlier, his father Bikramaditya Singh Bariha had been MLA thrice from this seat. This time Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s party BJD has given ticket to Barsha Singh Bariha, daughter of late MLA Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha. This shows the influence of the Binjhal community in Padampur, which has about 40,000 voters.
More voters of Kulta and Meher community
However, before declaring the name of the candidate, CM Patnaik did not forget to woo the people of Kulta and Mehar communities living in Padampur. He has approved several projects for the Kulta and Mehar communities before the elections. The number of voters of Kulta community is around 30,000 and the number of voters of Mehar community is around 20,000.
The seat has 28.63 percent voters from the Scheduled Castes. The total number of Dalit and tribal voters becomes 44.48 percent. The rest of the voters belong to the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), while a very small number belong to the general castes. Castes like Mali, Brahmin, Yadav, Kumbhar and Agariya also have a significant presence in Padampur.
BJD and BJP have their own equation
The Chief Minister inducted Mahendra Badei, a member of the Kulta Samaj and a former member of the Odisha Administrative Service, into the BJD and made him the spokesperson of the party. Badehi was also allowed to address the public at BJD president Naveen Patnaik’s election rally on Friday. BJP is also not behind in this. On Thursday, it inducted former Congress MP Sanjay Bhoi into the party. With this, the aim of the party is to gain the votes of the Kulta Samaj.
Congress taunts BJD and BJP
Please tell that Kripasindhu Bhoi, father of former MP Sanjay Bhoi, was a four-time MP from Bargarh Lok Sabha seat and Sanjay Bhoi’s joining BJP can affect the prospects of both BJD and Congress in the by-elections. Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan has criticized Patnaik for wooing the communities ahead of the bypolls.
At the same time, senior Congress MLA Santosh Singh Saluja criticized the BJD and BJP for doing ‘community-based politics’ and accused them of dividing people through it. He said, “The people of Odisha had earlier rejected caste politics and now they will teach a lesson to those who indulge in community politics.”
On the other hand, BJD MLA Sushant Singh claimed that people of all castes and communities support his party in the Padampur assembly seat as Patnaik works for all people.
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