An impenetrable Congress fortress since the first elections in 1957, the Koraput Lok Sabha seat was finally captured by BJD in 2009, which held on to it in 2014. However, 2019 seems to have added a new player to the bipolar fight with BJP emerging a strong challenger to the BJD and Congress. The BJP has fielded tribal heavyweight, four-time MLA and former MP Jayaram Pangi from the seat. Pangi had left BJD and joined BJP in 2017. Speaking to SN Agragami, he asserts that BJP will score a thumping victory in the seat.
Considering that the seat has traditionally been a Congress bastion and recently turned into a BJD stronghold, how do you rate BJP’s prospects in this election?
People had earlier been disappointed with Congress, which they voted for uninterruptedly till 2009. They gave the BJD two terms and are equally dissatisfied. You will see the lotus spring from the stone and bloom in full glory in the forthcoming election results. The BJP will win by a wide wide margin.
What do you think will work in BJP’s favour – Modi, Pangi or the coming together of heavyweights like you and the nine-time Congress MP and former CM Giridhar Gomang in the party?
It is all combined. People are impressed by the strong, decisive and delivery-oriented Prime Minister Narendra Modi and want his return. In my earlier terms as MLA and MP too, I had delivered on my promises to the people. We are all working together with the mantra of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” to ensure development and welfare of all sections of the people.
What are the major issues of the people here?
Non-recognition of genuine tribes, lack of irrigation facilities for farmers, proper education and employment opportunities for youth are the key issues of people. The BJD and Congress have both failed in ensuring development of the region and the tribal populace here.
As you go to the people for votes, how are you proposing to address these issues?
My first priority will be to push for and ensure ST status for hill tribes like Jharia, Dora and Darua. Though they are Adivasis, they are not getting the benefits. Besides, another priority is to make banks to extend loans to tribal youth for starting enterprise. The banks are not doing so as they cannot take tribal land as collateral.
Development of eco-tourism facilities at Deomali and Nageswari caves along with various other tourism spots, which will create huge employment opportunities for the local people and youth.
Ensure irrigation facilities for farmers of Gudari, Bandhugaon, Semiliguda along with other places along with implementation of the Gunupur-Therubali railway line are top on my priorities.
Koraput Lok Sabha