RAYAGADA: Independents and a Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) candidate may queer the pitch for their rivals in BJD, BJP and Congress in the politically conscious Rayagada Lok Sabha seat this General Elections.
Backed by loyalists and a strong following among tribal communities, the three are raring to go.
Makarand Muduli had contested from Rayagada Assembly segment on a Congress ticket in 2014 but lost to Lal Bihari Himirika of the BJD. This time, the grand old party denied him a ticket due to issues with his caste certificate following which he decided to enter the fray as an Independent.
He has the support of the Jhodia community which has around 25,000 voters in Rayagada constituency but what is more important is that people of his block are unhappy with the three major parties. They had wanted the three parties to select a unanimous candidate from their block but none agreed. This may give Makarand a head-start. On his part, he has been consolidating his base through public meetings.
In Gunupur constituency, Trinath Gomango quit the ruling BJD which preferred Raghunath Gomango, a political greenhorn. Raghunath, a Government employee, took VRS to join the BJD and got the ticket. Trinath, who had won the seat on a BJD ticket in 2014, will now be contesting as an Independent. Backing him are Siba Prasad Gouda, former chairman of Gunupur NAC, and district BJD secretary K Ramakrishna. Both are good organisers and did not desert Trinath even after he quit the BJD. Interestingly, after Trinath quit both Siba Gouda and Ramkrishna were suspended from BJD for anti-party activities. Political observers believe Trinath can sway votes in his favour.
The third is 30-year-old Jitendra Jakaka from Dongria Kondh community, who with a BSP ticket will take on BJD’s Jagannath Saraka, BJP’s Siba Sankar Ulaka and Congress candidate Neelmadhab Hikaka from Bissamcuttack segment. Last time, the seat bagged by BJD’s Jagannath Saraka but Jitendra is hopeful to get the support of SC communities in the segment and make the cut.
While all three have started door to door campaigning to reach out to voters, their counterparts in the BJP, BJD and Congress are banking on star campaigners to hit the campaign trail. Union Minister Raj Kumar Singh attended BJP’s Vijay Sankalp Samavesh at Bissamcuttack and Gunupur recently, while Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is scheduled to address two public meetings in Gunupur and Bissamcuttack on Sunday and go on a road show from JK Pur to Rayagada town.