NABARANGPUR: Will Chhattisgarh come to the rescue of the Congress in Odisha and Pradeep Majhi who is contesting from Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat this time? Pradeep, at least, is hopeful of it.
Nabarangpur shares border with Chhattisgarh where Congress won in the Assembly election last year and after coming to power, the grand old party implemented its poll promise of farm loan waiver and hike in paddy MSP to `2,600 per quintal. The party is now using this as its main poll plank in Odisha - and Nabarangpur to be particular - while attacking both BJP and BJD for being anti-farmer. Posters on the two poll promises are dotting every part of the electoral landscape in the Lok Sabha constituency that goes to polls in the first phase on April 11.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi had addressed a meeting in Jeypore last month where he assured to implement the poll promises if Congress is voted to power in Odisha. More than 98 per cent of people in the Parliamentary constituency depend on agriculture and this is a huge vote bank for any political party.
Party’s candidate Pradeep, who lost the 2014 General Election to BJD’s Balabhadra Majhi, is in an advantageous position this time. There is no dissidence in the district unit of Congress and Pradeep has been cementing his base in the constituency by raking up people’s issues. Having lost the Lok Sabha seat last time by a thin margin of 2,042 votes in 2014, he is hopeful of reclaiming it with the help of poll promises made by the party chief and his traditional vote bank.
However, vote share of Congress has been on a decline since 1996. In 1996, the Congress’ vote share was at 58.04 per cent and it came down to 38.93 per cent in 2009 and 36.38 percent in 2014 General Elections.