KENDRAPARA: Aul Assembly segment under Kendrapara Parliamentary constituency is all set to witness a pitched battle among Congress, BJD and BJP. While incumbent legislator Debendra Sharma of Congress has been renominated by the party, Rajya Sabha member and BJD leader Pratap Keshari Deb has been fielded by the ruling party. BJP has nominated former Aul MLA Dalagobinda Nayak from the seat.
The Assembly seat has been the fiefdom of the royal family of Aul and Deb belongs to its fourth generation. Deb’s mother, Sushri Devi, is a former member of Rajya Sabha while his father Sarat Deb was elected thrice from the Assembly segment and once from Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat in 1983 in a by-election. Deb’s grandmother Ramraj Kumari was elected from Pattamundai Assembly segment in the first Assembly elections after independence in 1952.
Aul constituency was formed in 1957 and since then the scions of the royal family have been contesting the elections. The royal family has considerable influence on the voters in the area as is evident from the fact that they have been defeated only four times from the seat. In the last Assembly polls, Congress’ Debendra Sharma had defeated Deb by a margin of 3,503 votes.
“BJD is determined to the win the seat this time,” said a party supporter Jadunath Behera.
However, Basant Sahoo, who owns a grocery shop in Aul, said the influence of the royal family is on the wane. “Sitting Congress MLA Debendra Sharma has worked for development of Aul and will reap benefits,” he said.
Aul Assembly segment covers Aul and Rajkanika blocks. Both Deb and Debendra have a good support base in Aul block while BJP candidate Dolagobinda Nayak is popular in Rajkanika area, said Sangram Singh, a BJP supporter of Rajkanika.
However, Deb seemed unfazed by the allegation and said BJD has done much for the people in the block. “All villages are now connected with concrete roads. Our Government has provided drinking water to almost all the villages and several bridges have been built in Aul and Rajkanika areas to facilitate smooth communication between villages,” he said.