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Parties go all out to woo Bangladeshi settlers

News18

Updated: November 25, 2011, 10:58 AM IST
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Parties go all out to woo Bangladeshi settlers
BHUBANESWAR: The fight for the Umerkote by-election seems to be centring on the Bengalis. With the Bangladeshi settlers holding ke..

BHUBANESWAR: The fight for the Umerkote by-election seems to be centring on the Bengalis. With the Bangladeshi settlers holding key to the poll outcome, parties have gone all out to woo the major vote base.
 Three major political parties - BJD, Congress and BJP - have been trying hard to mobilise maximum Bengali votes. While the ruling BJD is banking heavily on Arabinda Dhali, former MLA Nimai Sarkar of the Congress is canvassing for the party. The BJP has roped in former minister Samir Dey to do the job for party candidate Dharmu Gond.
   With a total number of voters of over 1.65 lakh in Umerkote constituency, Raighar block has the maximum number of 1.4 lakh voters of which about 10 per cent are Bengali voters. The Bengali settlers have minuscule presence in the Umerkote block having little over 60,000 voters including the notified area council (NAC) with 21,275 voters.
 Since the Gond community has a sizeable presence in the 24 gram panchayats in Raighar block, the three major political parties have fielded candidates from the community. Nearly 10 per cent of the total voters are Bengalis and a majority of them belong to the Raighar block. ww w As the players are aware of division of the majority Gond votes, they are heavily banking on the votes of Bengali settlers who are likely to decide the fate of the candidates.
 It is an open secret that the Bengali voters have aversion to the ruling BJD because they have suffered a lot under this Government. The slain BJD MLA Jagabandhu Majhi and his band of goons had tortured them a lot.
   No doubt former BJP leader Dhali who got elected to the Assembly on a BJD ticket in 2009 election had a sway over the Bengali settlers of Raighar. However, he lost  the goodwill and respect of the Bengali voters after he switched camp and his silent support to Jagabandhu.
 The Bengali voters are now seeing Dhali with suspicion and not taking him seriously any more, sources in the BJP claimed.
 The Bengali voters feel that the BJD candidate Subash Gond, once a close associate of Jagabandhu, is the other side of the same coin. They find hardly any difference between the slain Majhi and Subash.
 Dey who has been camping at Umerkote claimed that Dharmu is more acceptable among the Bengali voters than his rivals because of his humility and suave personality.

First Published: November 25, 2011, 10:58 AM IST
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