By organising three rallies, Biju Janata Dal stays ahead of other political parties

With the Election Commission of India announcing the schedule for simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls, poll fever hit Odisha on Wednesday with various parties getting ready for the battle.

The ruling Biju Janata Dal stayed ahead of the other parties as it organised three major political rallies on the occasion of the anniversary of Biju Patnaik, which was observed as Panchayati Raj Day in the State.

As per the schedule, the elections in Odisha will be held in two phases on April 10 and April 17.

In the first phase, polling will be conducted in Bargarh, Sundergarh, Sambalpur, Balangir, Kalahandi, Nabarangpur, Kandhamal, Aska, Berhampur and Koraput Lok Sabha Parliamentary and the 70 Assembly constituencies coming under them.

The second phase polling on April 17 will be held in the remaining 11 Lok Sabha seats such as Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, Baleswar, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Bhubaneswar as well as the 77 Assembly constituencies coming under them.

Meanwhile, the Chief Electoral Officer urged the Centre to provide additional security forces for the smooth conduct of the polls in the Maoist-dominated regions.

The State needs additional forces over and above the 89 companies of Central paramilitary forces already deployed since the polls in the Left wing extremist-affected region and adjoining areas will be held on the same day, CEO Mona Sharma told presspersons here.

Sensitive and hyper-sensitive booths have been identified across the State and all District Collectors and Superintendents of Police have been asked to place their requirement of forces, she said.

On the other hand, the major parties such as the Biju Janata Dal, Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party have fastened the process for selecting candidates for the 21 Lok Sabha and 147 Assembly seats.

The Biju Janata Dal was finding it difficult to complete the selection process in view of the large number of applications it had received from aspiring candidates.

The party had received innumerable applications as it was being said that many new faces will be given tickets for the coming polls.

Although the Congress had not released the names of its candidates, a senior leader of the party said that the leaders whose had been finalised had already been asked to start working in their respective constituencies.

The Bharatiya Janata Party might take a little more time in selecting its candidates as the party was likely to enter into seat sharing arrangement with some small parties.