BERHAMPUR: Aska Parliamentary constituency, the first political field of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, is all set to witness a pitched battle between the BJD, BJP and Congress-supported CPI.
Naveen sprung a surprise by choosing to field an icon of the SHG movement in the State Pramila Bisoi from the seat while the BJP has nominated Anita Subhadarshini, the daughter of former minister Ramakrushna Patnaik and ex-MP Kumudini Patnaik. While the two are set to battle it out for the segment, veteran Left leader and CPI candidate Ramkrushna Panda, who is being supported by Congress, has emerged a strong challenger.
Though a novice in politics, Pramila has the experience of leading women on various social causes. Pramila, while banking on the clean image of Naveen has been strengthening her own base by organising women’s group across the constituency. On the other hand, Anita, is banking on the Modi wave and the influence of her parents.
Ramakrushna, a Left party veteran, apart from the party’s base in the constituency, has the support of Congress. Incidently all the three contenders are first timers and with two women in the fray, the fight for the seat is set to be a tough one, feel political observers.
The constituency has always been a battle ground for stalwarts of political parties. It had elected former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik in 1996. After his death, BJD was formed and his son Naveen got elected from the seat in 1998 . He also got a berth in the Union Government led by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Kumudini contested the by-elections to the constituency in 2000 after Naveen vacated the seat to fight from Hinjili Assembly segment. She secured 70.31 percent votes but was expelled from the ruling party due to differences with the party chief.
In 2004, Hari Hara Swain of BJD won the seat with 56.08 percent votes. He was later suspended from BJD for cross voting. Similarly in 2009, Nityananda Pradhan won the seat with 59.82 percent votes.
In 2014, Ladu Kishore Swain of BJD got elected with 60.41 percent. Considering the importance of the seat for the ruling party, Naveen is participated in road shows across the constituency again on Friday. Besides, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik and Congress MP Ranjib Biswal too campaigned for their candidates and attended public meetings at Sanakhemundi and Polasara.