RAYAGADA: With Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announcing to field 33 per cent women from the Parliamentary constituencies in the State, Koraput is likely to see Kaushalya Hikaka, wife of MP Jhina Hikaka, being given the ticket for the Lok Sabha seat.
A teacher of Unit I High School in Bhubaneswar, Kaushalya had met Naveen on Tuesday in connection with her candidature from the prestigious constituency which was a stronghold of Congress till 2009. Former Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang had won from the constituency for nine consecutive times. He had lost to Jayaram Pangi of BJD in 2009 and, again in 2014, to Hikaka. Hikaka had come to the limelight after being kidnapped by Maoists in 2012 and kept in captivity for 34 days, when he was the MLA of Laxmipur.
He may not be given the ticket this time due to a perceptible anti-incumbency factor in the constituency. Riding on the Naveen wave, he won the seat in 2014 but failed to reach out to the people at the grassroots through development projects. Hikaka had adopted Pitaguda panchayat in Semiliguda block under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana in 2015 but residents of the panchayat never got a glimpse of their MP, forget development. He has been constantly criticised by the opposition for his absence from the constituency and lack of developmental works.
While the BJP might give ticket to either of the two former MPs Giridhar Gamang and Jayram Pangi, Saptagiri Ullaka, son of late Rama Chandra Ullaka, is a strong aspirant of Congress ticket.
Under these circumstances, it will be difficult for a political novice like Kaushalya to ensure win for the ruling party as she would have to fight the poll battle with veterans like Gamang and Pangi. She has no connect with locals and has been staying in Bhubaneswar after being transferred by Government on security grounds ever since Hikaka was released by Maoists in 2012.
Further, if sources are to be believed, Hikaka ’s chances of contesting from Laxmipur Assembly constituency in the ensuing elections also seem bleak.