After spending a decade in political wilderness, threetime MP from Balasore and former president of Utkal Bharat party Mahamegha Bahan Aira Kharabela Swain has returned to BJP and made a candidate from Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat at the eleventh hour. Considered to be one of the best Parliamentarians and a tenacious fighter, Swain has launched a spirited fight with the active support of Sangh Parivar. Excerpts from Swain’s interview with Bijoy Pradhan.
Why did you return to BJP when you had decided to contest from Balasore?
I have been working for years to defeat the corrupt and inefficient Government led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. wanted a national party like BJP to take the lead but they did not do it earlier. In March, the BJP took the initiative by inducting former MP Baijayant Panda into the party. I too had to follow. Besides, my efforts to bring in smaller groups to one fold did not succeed.
Are you getting the support of RSS workers, considering the fact that you are an outsider to the constituency and had left BJP accusing the Sangh of undue interference in party matters?
I am delighted and lucky that from the very beginning, the BJP and Sangh Parivar cadres have been enthusiastic about my candidature. Even though I have been away from BJP for the last one decade, the cadres never thought me to be away from them. With me, they seem to be fighting for the first time to win.
Why will Kandhamal vote for BJP when BJD claims to have done so many things for the district?
Though BJD has won time and again from this constituency, Kandhamal has not benefited from it. None of the previous MPs has made the constituency his or her political base. As a result, they did virtually nothing for the development of the district which is still backward.
Your BJD opponent has an edge over you for his philanthropic activities in promoting education among poor tribals. A large number of beneficiaries are from Kandhamal. What is your view on this?
The public perception in Kandhamal is that the fight is between the good and bad. I represent goodness and credibility while my BJD opponent carries a very negative image about him. That is the reason why people are going to vote for me.
Do you think the Narendra Modi wave will work? Will Balakot air strikes and issues like national security have any impact on voters?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Balakot strikes and national security are playing a major role in shaping the mood of the electorate. These factors are working to the great advantage of BJP.
What are your main poll planks?
Setting up a medical college and completing the Khurda-Balangir railway line will be my major initiatives if elected. Besides, infrastructure development and providing safe drinking water would be my other priorities.