KENDRAPARA: The Patkura Assembly seat under Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency will be the testing ground for BJP’s Bijay Mohapatra and BJD candidate Bedprakash Agarwalla, both pitted against Congress’ Jayant Mohanty.
While the seat has been a BJD bastion, the ruling party’s hold over it has weakened to an extent if the recent spate of events are taken into consideration. On Wednesday, senior BJD leaders and chairman of Derabishi block Saraj Sahoo and his supporters joining BJP. They quit protesting candidature of 85-year-old Bedprakash, who is mostly bed-ridden owing to old age-related ailments.
The former NCP leader Bijay - having suffered failure in the last three consecutive elections, twice from Patkura and once from Mahakalapada - is now riding on the sympathy wave. In 2000, BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik denied ticket to Bijay to contest from Patkura and choose Atanu Sabyasachi for the seat. Atanu was defeated by Bijay’s supported candidate Trilochan Behera by 50,000 votes. But Trilochan betrayed Bijay to join BJD and in 2004, Atanu defeated Bijay. In 2009 Assembly poll, Bijay again suffered defeat at the hands of Bedprakash from Patkura seat. Atanu defeated him from Mahakalapada segment in the last General Elections.
Although Bijay continues to have his traditional support base in Patkura Assembly segment, development in the seat is Bedprakash’s trump card. All the villages under the Assembly segment have been electrified and connected with roads. Bijay, during his door to door campaigning, had urged voters to vote him to teach Naveen a lesson for keeping him out of Odisha politics.
Although the BJD is comfortably placed in certain pockets of Derabishi block, it is riddled with infighting. Bedprakash is now bed-ridden and could not even climb the steps of collectorate to file his nomination. His son and daughter had canvassed for him.
The Congress candidate Jayant also enjoys good support in the segment. However, he had suffered defeat at the hands of Bedprakash in last General Elections with a margin of 42,138 votes. The seat will go to polls in the fourth phase on April 29.