PATKURA: This election will decide the political future of Bijay Mohapatra, the newlyacquired face of BJP, who is contesting from Patkura Assembly constituency.
The contours of the constituency have changed after the delimitation exercise as the Derabish block has been included in this segment.
Even though there are several issues raised by different candidates, the fight has boiled down to the ‘son of the soil’ versus ‘outsider’. Mohapatra’s rival is former minister Bed Prakash Agrawal, who has entered the fray from this seat as BJD candidate as the Kendrapara segment has been reserved for scheduled caste (SC) candidates. Agrawal switched over to BJD from the BJP before the elections.
The fight is not between symbols here. It is a fight between a senior leader and the BJD, a voter of Kulasahi village in the Garadapur block said.
Across the constituency people admit that Mohapatra has been wronged twice - first time, in 2000 when he was denied BJD ticket at the last moment by Naveen Patnaik. And again this time when president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Sharad Pawar struck a seat-sharing deal with Naveen.
This is an issue which has touched the sentiments of the voters across the constituency. Several voters in different parts of the segment maintained that Mohapatra deserves a chance this time.
As BJP’s organisation was nonexistent in the constituency, Mohapatra had to start from the scratch.
Mohapatra’s constant touch with the people and his support base has made his task somewhat easier.
Besides, change of constituency by BJD’s Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak from Patkura to Mahakalapada has not gone down well with the people. ‘‘This time Atanu has left, Bedprakash may also leave next time,’’ a voter in Patkura village observed.
However, the BJD had launched an aggressive campaign against Mohapatra to woo the voters. Besides the development plank, Agrawal is trying to influence the voters by alleging that Mohapatra was denied ticket as he wanted to sabotage the chances of BJD from inside. This was the main theme of the speech made by BJD Rajya Sabha member Pyarimohan Mohapatra at Bandhakata on Monday.
Welfare schemes started by the State Government, including the Rs 2-a-kg scheme, has gone down well with the voters in this rural constituency. Though people have fed up with local BJD leaders, they have nothing against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. If Naveen’s popularity translates into votes, Mohapatra will be in trouble.
Bijay is also facing another problem.
Congress candidate Narayan Swain is a local man. If Swain gets a large chunk of votes from the Garadapur area, the contest will be triangular in this block.
Candidate having an upperhand in Derabish block will win the election. Mohapatra launched an extensive campaign in this block, which is new to the constituency, to woo the voters.
In the adjacent Mahakalapada constituency which has been newly carved out, BJD nominee Atanu is facing a tough challenge from Congress veteran Balaram Parida. The disenchantment of voters with the BJD leaders and long association of Parida with this constituency may spring a surprise in this constituency.
Senior Congress leader Nalini Kanta Mohanty is locking horns with Alekh Jena of BJD, a fresher, in Rajnagar. The BJP has also fielded Bijay Ketan Swain, a senior leader. Even though the BJD has tried to make a dent in Bengali vote bank, Mohanty still seems to have an edge.