JEYPORE: Congress candidate and incumbent Jeypore MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati, who was the frontrunner in the poll race a couple of days back, seems to have squandered away his lead.A perceptible Narendra Modi wave in the region after the recent Prime Minister’s rally at Jeypore and the shower of freebies allegedly by BJD candidate may prove to be Bahinipati’s undoing with only a day left for the elections.
Jeypore Assembly seat is witnessing a triangular fight between Bahinipati (popularly known as Bhalu), BJD’s Rabi Narayan Nanda (Dadhi) and Gautam Samantaray (Sadhu) of the BJP.Though all three candidates have embarked on a marathon campaigning spree for the last 15 days, Nanda and Samantaray now seem to have overtaken the Congress candidate in the poll race.
The Congress fortress of Borrigumma block has been breached by the BJP this time after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jeypore. Voters of the block, who have been playing a decisive role in determining the fate of poll candidates, are now divided with a visible Modi wave gripping the area.
In the last elections, votes of Jeypore block and the urban areas were divided between BJD and Congress equally and Bahinipati sailed through the poll waters successfully with support from Borrigumma voters. However, with Modi magic working wonders in Borrigumma now, the Congress candidate has his task cut out.
Making matters worse for Bahinipati is the flow of freebies to rural voters by BJD which the Congress candidate is not able to match up to.Sources said the financial handicap of Bahinipati has cast a cloud over his poll prospects as voters, particularly in Jeypore and Borrigumma, are vociferous in their demand for freebies and cash from political parties. With the Congress candidate unable to satisfy the voters, it is advantage Nanda and Samantaray.
The Congress workers too are reluctant to venture into the rural areas for campaigning without sufficient cash and freebies anticipating the demand from villagers.However, Bahinipati is confident of retaining the seat. “I have carried out several development works in the segment during my tenure as an MLA and there have been no instances of corruption in the last five years,” claimed the Congress candidate. “My clean image would help me overcome all odds created by BJD and BJP with the use of money and muscle power,” he added. In 2014 polls, Bahinipati had defeated Nanda by a margin of 7,000 votes. Meanwhile on Tuesday, both Bahinipati and Nanda organised rallies in Jeypore town to make a last ditch effort to woo voters.