KHARIAR: Khariar Assembly constituency has been a stronghold of BJP since 2009. However, the electoral battle in the segment comprising three blocks - Khariar, Sinapali and Boden, is set to be a triangular one this time.
Ritarani Bagarti is the BJP candidate while BJD has fielded Lambodar Nial from the seat and Congress has nominated Adhiraj Panigrahi. Lambodar is a sitting Zilla Parishad member and an expert member of the Western Odisha Development Council (WODC).
The BJD is banking on the development programmes implemented by the State Government such as KALIA, PEETHA, etc., while Ritarani, who is the wife of former MLA Hitesh Kumar Bagarti is looking to capitalise on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his governance record. Adhiraj is banking heavily on Congress’ organisational strength and his own development agenda for the constituency.
Khariar is marked by problems of under-development, distress migration, etc. Political observers believe these will be major issues in the upcoming elections. The voters in the segment are keen to elect a representative who can spearhead development.
Analysts believe Yadav voters are likely to play a decisive role in the polls. As both BJD and BJP candidates belong to the community, its votes will be divided between the two parties. In such situation, the Congress candidate may have a slight edge. In the 2014 polls, Duryodhan Majhi of BJP had defeated Adhiraj by a margin of 7,126 votes. Majhi was elected on a BJD ticket to the constituency thrice prior to the 2009. However, he switched side to the saffron party in 2014 and the seat remained with BJP.