ROURKELA: New equations are taking shape in the Bonai Assembly constituency under the Sundargarh Lok Sabha constituency with just a week left for second phase poll on April 18.
Sitting CPM MLA Laxman Munda, this time in alliance with the Congress, seeks to retain power in a triangular fight with the BJD and BJP. It will be a litmus test for Laxman who in 2014 had won with a thin lead of 1,818 votes. He is, however, confident of a comfortable victory with support of Congress and JMM.
Political observers said CPM should not expect much from Congress and JMM. The Congress in Bonai is in tatters while JMM is fast losing its relevance. Moreover, former Congress MLA Janardan Dehury has entered the fray as rebel to queer the pitch for CPM. As Independent, Janardan in 2014 had bagged 6,000 votes.
Observers said CPM or Laxman’s vote shares never jumped up substantially over the last three elections. In 2004, Laxman won the Assembly segment by securing 37,890 votes, lost in 2009 bagging 27, 139 votes but retained it last time securing 39,125 votes. Independent candidates in Bonai usually make or break the game. In 2009, the BJP rebel and ex-MLA late Dayanidhi Kisan had polled over 18,000 votes, while another Independent Anil Barla had polled 10,800 votes. Moreover, CPM used to get nearly half of its vote share from the mining belt of Koida through trade union activities of its labour arm CITU. But this time the CPM may lose substantial votes in Koida with BJD and BJP having made deep inroads.
Incidentally, despite having emerged stronger the BJD is banking on a relatively weak candidate Ranjit Kisan who is a former Zilla Parishad president having switched side to BJD in recent years. Ranjit’s candidature had irked former Bonai MLA Bhimsen Chaudhary, who has now settled in BJD after starting his political career in BJP and unsuccessfully contesting the 2014 elections on a Congress ticket. BJD’s fate rests on Bhimsen.
BJD spokesperson Sundarmani Pradhan claimed that despite initial disappointment Bhimsen is working sincerely and the party is set for a comfortable win. He, however, refused to buy Ranjit as a weak candidate.
The BJP also hopes to throw up surprise results as its Bonai nominee Anil Barla has his own support base. Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, who started his career as Bonai MLA, said with good work of Modi government the BJP would return to power in Bonai.