BHUBANESWAR: BJP national president Amit Shah is coming on a day’s visit to the State on Friday to address a public rally at Keonjhar which will go to polls on April 23. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Odisha again on April 16 to address a public meeting in the Capital City and Sambalpur.
The saffron party has pinned its hope on Keonjhar Parliamentary seat which it had won three times in a row from 1998 to 2004. It lost the seat to BJD after the latter snapped ties in 2009 and went alone to fight the simultaneous Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP tasted success from this reserved constituency for the first time in 1998 when it fought the election in alliance with BJD. Upendra Nath Nayak of BJP won the seat by defeating Congress candidate Madhab Sardar.
The saffron party retained the seat in the next two elections in 1999 and 2004 with Anant Nayak as its candidate. Though the BJD has been winning the seat from 2009, BJP has managed to stay in second position by pushing Congress to the third place.
This time too, the BJP has fielded Nayak, who was defeated by Sakuntala Laguri of BJD by a margin of over 1.57 lakh votes in 2014 elections. While Laguri polled 4,34,471 votes, Nayak could manage 2,77,154 votes.
The BJD has fielded a young technocrat Chandrani Murmu by replacing Sakuntala, wife of former MP Yashbant Singh Laguri.Shah’s visit to Keonjhar is likely to boost the electoral prospects of Nayak and the BJP candidates of seven Assembly seats coming under the Lok Sabha constituency.
The BJP president, who has set a target to win over 120 Assembly seats and as many of the 21 Lok Sabha constituencies, will again visit Odisha to address election meetings at Baramba in Cuttack and Dhenkanal on April 17.