JHARSUGUDA : Jharsuguda Assembly segment will witness a triangular fight between heavyweight Naba Kisore Das of BJD, Mahendra Naik of Congress and Dinesh Jain of BJP.The sitting MLA, Das quit Congress to join the ruling party recently and has started campaigning taking the BJD workers along with his former Congress supporters. In the last elections, he had trumped BJD candidate former Speaker Kishore Mohanty to win the seat for Congress.
This time, however, he takes on his former party.Lawyer Dinesh Jain, on the other hand, is from RSS background and is popular among the legal circles in the region. But, the BJP has not been able to make any significant inroads in the seat in the past. Jain had contested in 2009 but came a distant third.
The Congress, which holds the seat, has been forced to field a new face in Naik. Naik quit job as the Under Secretary in Works Department to join the grand old party. Belonging to the Gondwana tribal community, he is relying on the Gondwana vote bank to swing the elections in his favour. There are 1.6 lakh tribal voters in the constituency of which, 62,000 belong to Gondwana tribe. Naik is currently the president of Gondwana Samaj in the State.
Political observers said Naik despite being a new face has an edge over Das and Jain for the tribal support he enjoys. While Das might face anti-incumbency, Jain has limited presence in the constituency.
After filing of nominations for second phase ended on March 29, there were nine candidates in the fray. Candidates of Koshal Kranti Dal, Pragatisheel Samaj Party, Odisha Pragati Dal, Hindustan Nirmal Dal and two Independents are contesting the election apart from the three major political parties.
Jharsuguda was a Congress fort from 1974 to 1985 and Kishore Kumar Mohanty of Janata Dal captured it in 1990. The Congress snatched the seat from Janata Dal in 1995 when Mohanty was defeated by Birendra Pandey of the party. In 2000, Mohanty regained the seat for BJD.Jharsuguda Assembly constituency comes under the Bargarh Lok Sabha constituency and goes to polls in the second phase on April 18.