A candidate befriends stray dogs for support in panchayat poll campaign.
In the wake of curbs announced by the Odisha Election Commission, candidates came up with unique campaign ideas to woo the voters.
Ganjam: In Odisha’s Ganjam district, Sweety, Chandramukhi and Odisha Tiger accompanied 23-year old Rojalini Behera on her door to door campaign trail. The trio were ‘friends’ of the Sarpanch nominee Rojalini who contested from Maulabhanja Panchayat in Sanakhemundi block. They wore masks and helmets to attract the attention of the passers-by. What made the trio special is that they are canines and not human beings.
The campaigning for the Panchayat polls in Odisha might be over, but the unique campaigning ideas of some candidates are still making waves on social media.
The state election commission had announced several curbs in the wake of Covid-19, including roadshows and large gatherings, prompting the candidates to come up with unique ways of reaching out to the voters.
Rojalini, a nurse by profession, found it difficult to arrange resources for people to campaign for her. Instead, she befriended the three stray dogs and took her along with them for campaigning. This also favoured her to continue her campaign without breaking any Covid-19 curbs. Initially, the state election commission had allowed only five people to be engaged in door to door campaigns, but later increased it to 20.
“It serves two purposes. Along with the election campaign, we are also spreading awareness on Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and also wearing helmets to avoid injuries in accidents,” Rojalini told 101Reporters.
Similarly, in Nabarangpur, sarpanch candidate Bhagavati Bhotra walked around with a fresh fish, which is also her election symbol. A Zilla Parishad president, Bhotra is hoping a sarpanch post will help her serve the community more effectively.
“Every morning I go to the market and get the best fish. Then, I start my door to door campaign and reach out to a lot of people and interact with them personally, which wouldn’t have been possible in a rally or a gathering,” Bhotra said.
A candidate enages with a voter during door to door campaign for Panchayat Polls in Odisha
While Rojalini and Bhotra have at least their family members tagging along during the campaign, in Cuttack district, Santosh Kumar Sinha had only his two-wheeler as an accompaniment. His campaign trail included roaming around the Barang block with two jars – a ‘help’ jar and an ‘accusation’ jar, gathering the reviews of the voters.
“My main motto is to ward off corruption. So I prefer travelling alone and listening to the woes of the poor people. I want to look into the issues of education and ensure welfare schemes reach those in need.”
In Koraput, an independent nominee Sashmita Khera campaigned with an LED television set, her election symbol. “Television is a common symbol. Instead of distributing leaflets, I thought carrying a TV set would help people connect and remember the symbol well while casting their votes,” she told 101Reporters.
An Ayurvedic doctor Dr. Nagendra Kumar from Balasore district was on a spree of giving free consultations in Basta block of Balasore district, where he is a nominee for the sarpanch post. He roamed around carrying his stethoscope and basic medical utility kit.
The polling for panchayat elections in Odisha took place from February 16 till February 24. The results will be announced from February 26-28, 2022.
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