ROURKELA: THE Rajgangpur Assembly constituency with six Zilla Parishad (ZP) seats is bracing up for an interesting contest with the ruling BJD looking for a direct fight with the Congress. Two ZP seats each in Kutra and Lathikata blocks of the Rajgangpur Assembly constituency would go to poll on February 13, while voting to the remaining two ZP seats in Rajgangpur block would be held on February 17.
While election campaigning is yet to pick up pace, candidates and leaders of various political parties have started wooing rural voters at village meetings. In the 2012 ZP election, the BJD faced groupism as two official nominees of the BJD had faced defeat in the hands of rebel BJD candidates supported by Sundargarh unit BJD president Mangla Kishan.
The BJD had won one of the six ZP seats, but later the Mangla-backed two ZP members of Kutra block, along with an Independent ZP member of Lathikata- B supported by Birmitrapur MLA George Tirkey, had joined the BJD. George has put up four Independent ZP candidates in Lathikata and Rajgangpur blocks, who are contesting under the banner of Sundargarh Zilla Adivasi Mulvasi Bachao Manch (SZAMBM) with the common symbol of drum.
The JMM has also fielded candidates in a few seats. BJD’s State executive member Jitendra Das said his party would have a direct fight with the Congress and the BJP would be a distant third. He said the SZAMBM and JMM will have no influence in Rajgangpur. Former two-time Congress MLA of Rajgangpur, Greogry Minz, said voters are fed up with the 17 years of rule of BJD and Congress is in a strong position in Rajgangpur Assembly constituency. He said the JMM is on the wane and its votes would be cornered by the SZAMBM. He hoped for a clean sweep by the Congress, a claim rejected by the BJD. Despite being underplayed by the BJD and the Congress, BJP’s State executive member Updendra Pradhan saidhis party would throw up surprise results in the six ZP seats.