Top 5 High Profile Odisha Lok Sabha Constituencies Where Fight Might Be Closely Watched

28 March 2019

Susim Chandra Sahani

Bhubaneswar: Following the announcement of names of the ticket holders of the respective parties and the battle line drawn now with filing of nominations for the general elections, all are now agog to witness the tough fight while Odisha is poised to experience a queer wrestling in some of the high profile Lok Sabha seats (parliamentary constituencies).

Odisha has 21 parliamentary constituencies out of which Bhubaneswar, Kendrapara, Puri, Kandhamal and Sundargarh are tipped to be the Lok Sabha seats where the electoral heatwave is predicted to be at its zenith.

Bhubaneswar is not only the capital city, but this time it is going to be a three-corner fight-BJD, BJP and Congress-backed CPI (M). Notwithstanding that, all eyes are on the political debutantes-BJD’s Arup Pattnaik versus BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi.

While Arup is a retired Maharashtra cadre IPS officer-cum-former Police Commissioner of Mumbai, Aparajita is a VRS-opted Odisha cadre IAS officer-cum-former Commissioner of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC). Arup is handpicked by BJD supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik whereas Aparajita is believed to be close to BJP’s poster boy PM Modi.

Kendrapara draws the attention as BJP has fielded Baijayant Panda and Ollywood actor-turned-politician Anubhav Mohanty is the BJD candidate. This electoral match is significant as Baijayant was the sitting MP of Kendrapara and represented BJD. After his ouster from BJD for his alleged anti-party activities, he is now a BJP candidate and claims himself to be the blue-eyed boy of PM Modi.

On the other hand, Anubhav is also a sitting Rajya Sabha member of BJD party and is believed to be loyal lieutenant to both regional satrap Naveen Patnaik and the party. Kendrapara was the bastion of late Biju Babu and till date the people adore him a lot. Poll pundits are of the opinion that a BJD candidate in the fray garners votes owing to the party and votes are cast in favour of Naveen Patnaik. This time Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat assumes utmost significance as the victory or defeat won’t be of BJD or BJP but of political sworn enemies Naveen or Baijayant.

It was being rumoured that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been keen on contesting from Puri Lok Sabha seat this time apart from Varanasi of which he is the sitting MP. All the speculations were put to an end when BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra was fielded. He is deemed to be an acolyte of PM Modi and an Odisha-born physician privately practising in New Delhi.

Patra has been pitted against Puri’s two-time sitting MP (BJD) Pinaki Mishra who is also a noted lawyer of Supreme Court. He is considered as a son of the soil. Here too the victory or loss is being attributed to that of Modi or Naveen by the poll pundits.

Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat is also a cynosure as senior BJP leader and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, noted tribal leader as well as Congress candidate George Tirkey and BJD’s Sunita Biswal are in the fray. Sunita is daughter of former Odisha Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Hemananda Biswal. Hemananda had been elected as Sundargarh MP in 2009 but lost to Jual in 2014. His daughter joined BJD recently and has been its candidate where polarised tribal votes play a decisive role.

The fight here assumes significance as Jual Oram was the lone BJP MP from Odisha while BJD had won 20 out of the total 21 Lok Sabha seats. Besides, BJD chieftain and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has recently claimed that his party is confident of clinching all the 21 Lok Sabha seats and play a kingmaker at the Centre as psephologists project neither Congress-led UPA nor BJP-led NDA could muster full majority to form government of their own.

The Kandhamal Lok Sabha battle has also turned important this time as BJP has pitted its candidate Kharavela Swain against BJD’s Achyuta Samant. Both are outsiders and allegedly thrust on the Kandhamal voters by their respective parties. While Kharavela is a former BJP MP from Balasore, he had quit the party on the eve of 2009 general elections. Recently he has been back to home and dubbed as a return of the prodigal son. On the other hand, Achyuta is a sitting BJD Rajya Sabha member and the founder of world-acclaimed KIIT and KISS universities. Despite being a non-political person, he was surprisingly chosen by the BJD supremo to be sent to Rajya Sabha last year.

Kandhamal has been a BJD seat as Achyuta Samant has been fielded in place of the sitting MP Pratyusha Rajeswari Singh who has now switched over to BJP after being denied re-nomination by BJD. BJP too claims this parliamentary seat as its old stronghold given its communally sensitive history. Because of the then communal carnage, BJD has severed its alliance with BJP since 2009 general elections and the seat is being retained by BJD.

Also Read: Odisha: Bijoy Mohapatra Rejoins BJP