RAYAGADA : MAKARANDA MUDULI, a Congress dissident who fought the General Elections as an Independent, won the Rayagada Assembly segment by defeating candidates of all major political parties. The 43-year-old politician is also the only Independent candidate to have won in the 2019 elections.
While he bagged 52,751 votes, BJD’s Lal Bihari Himirika secured 47,913 votes. The Congress candidate Kadraka Appalaswamy got 39,625 votes and BJP’s Basanta Kumar Ullaka 24,327 votes. Rayagada constituency comprises Rayagada and Kashipur blocks and the latter with its high voter population played a decisive role in the elections, political observers said.
In 2014 General Elections, Makaranda fought from the seat as Congress candidate. Although Makaranda was a strong candidate for the grand old party this time as well, he was denied ticket due to issues with his caste certificate.
Makaranda has a strong connect with people of Kashipur as he has been fighting for granting ST status for Jhodia community and employment of local youths in UAIL at Doraguda. He has been raising his voice for proper utilisation of District Mineral Funds in Kashipur block. He had the support of Kashipur voters, who have always played a major role in determining the fate of contestants in the constituency.
An alumni of Utkal University, he had joined politics in 2000 and contested from Laxmipur constituency on BSP ticket but lost the seat. Makaranda joined Congress in 2008 and got ticket in 2014 from the party but again lost to Himirika by a narrow margin of 7,000 votes.
Sources said Makaranda had good contact with former MP Srikant Jena which did not go down well with Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik. When he did not get the ticket, he decided to contest as Independent and subsequently, Makaranda was suspended from Congress along with two other leaders from Kashipur block.