Two-time MP from BJD Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo is facing a tough challenge from both Congress and BJP this time. Even as voters from Balangir, one of the poorest districts of the country continues to send members of the erstwhile royal family to the Parliament, no significant development is noticed. He speaks to
Bijoy Pradhan about his prospects.
Q. People are talking about a strong Modi wave this time across the country. Besides, your party is facing anti-incumbency.
I do not think there is any anti-wave against the BJD Government. What I feel there is an anti-wave against the Congress. A lot of Congress votes is shifting to the BJP. BJD votes are pretty much intact. It is the Congress vote shifting to the BJP which is why the people are talking of a swing in favour of BJP. I do not see any major threat to the BJD as there is no sizeable shift in favour of BJP.
Q. Poll surveys conducted so far said the BJP will gain from Odisha and Western Odisha will contribute significantly.
I think the BJP is trying to convert it into a presidential form of election. People very much understand that Modi is not going to come here everyday to look after their needs. It is the local candidate who can do it. Besides, the BJP is on a shaky wicket. They have lost every election and by-elections they fought in the last one and half year. They lost Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan besides, UP by-polls. Where is the wave? It has been a verbal wave orchestrated by some hardened followers of the BJP.
Q. Your Congress opponent says you are hardly seen in Balangir and the constituents feel neglected.
If I am not looking after the constituency, I wouldn’t have been winning two times in a row. The last part of my job is to stay outside the constituency to arrange funds from Bhubaneswar and Delhi for development works. Not only is it important to get funds, but also to utilise it properly.
Q. What makes you so confident that you will be re-elected when your constituency has hardly seen any development in the last decade?
I have taken the initiative for setting up a medical college here. Now we have a Government medical college which is functioning while the ones at Kalahandi and Rourkela are not. A lot of work has been done and there are many more to be undertaken. We are soon starting a flying school at Tusra. We want to set up institutions and create infrastructure which has long term impact and amplifies economy. What my opponents lack is a clear sense of long term vision.