BERHAMPUR: While ruling BJD is confident of a hat-trick from Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency by fielding former Congress veteran Chandra Sekhar Sahu, the mood of the voters says otherwise.
Berhampur seat, a Congress fortress for more than four decades, was breached by BJP in 1999. But the grand old party recaptured it in 2004 with Sahu as its candidate. However, BJD wrested the seat in 2009 by fielding popular cine star Siddhanta Mahapatra and retained it again in 2014.
This time, however, BJD dropped its warhorse Mahapatra for reasons unknown and nominated Sahu who had joined the ruling party after being thrashed twice in a row by the cine star.
Sahu, who had been a harsh critic of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for two decades, is now all praise for the BJD supremo and this has not gone down well with the voters. Moreover, BJD workers in Berhampur are also in a fix as they have to support a candidate against whom they had campaigned since the last two decades.
Though resentment in party’s inner circle over the decision to drop Mahapatra has been neutralised, BJD’s woes are far from over. Sources said the ruling party is facing protests due to change of candidates in five Assembly segments under the Parliamentary constituency. Sahu will be banking on charisma of Naveen who held road shows in the constituency.
With the political waters muddied for BJD, BJP fielded Bhrugu Baxipatra to cash in on the situation. While the saffron party has intensified its campaign with BJP national president Amit Shah and Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan leading the charge to boost Bhrugu’s prospects, the Congress is yet to bring its star campaigners to the poll arena for its nominee V Chandrasekhar Naidu.
To woo the electorate, Bhrugu has assured to complete all incomplete projects in Ganjam district besides presenting development model of BJP-ruled States in the country. Sources said Bhrugu has an added advantage of riding on the visible ‘Modi’ wave in the region. This apart, the anti-incumbency factor and campaigning by Union Ministers, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and a host of cine stars planned by the saffron party, is likely to turn the poll tide in favour of the BJP candidate.
Naidu, on his part, has promised to establish various industries and create employment opportunities for local youths. He has also assured to convert Rangeilunda air strip into an aerodrome. However, his promises have no takers. Besides, the infighting in Congress has added to the miseries of Naidu, sources said.
All the three candidates are eyeing Telugu voters and the business community apart from their respective party vote bases. At present, BJP appears to be enjoying considerable support form both the categories.
Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency consists of Chhatrapur, Gopalpur, Berhampur, Chikiti, Digapahandi, Mohana and Parlakhemundi Assembly segments spread across both Ganjam and Gajapati districts.