CUTTACK: A straight fight between BJD and BJP is on cards in the Cuttack Sadar Assembly constituency which comprises 23 wards of Cuttack Sadar block, 14 panchayats of Nischintakoili block and six wards of Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC).The seat was reserved for Scheduled Caste (SC) candidates following the delimitation of constituencies in 2009.
BJP candidate Dillip Mallik has emerged as a strong contender for the seat. He is pitted against sitting legislator and Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Chandra Sarathi Behera, who is seeking re-election from the seat and Congress nominee Abhisek Mahananda, whose mother Ashima had unsuccessfully contested from the constituency in 2009.
In 2009, Chandra Sarathi was elected from adjoining Salepur, while his father and senior BJD leader Kalindi Behera was elected from Cuttack-Sadar constituency. He had defeated his nearest rival Dilip Mallick of BJP by a margin of 25,791 votes in the 2014 Assembly elections. Congress candidate Chandra Sekhar Samal came third and got 18,271 votes.
Cuttack Sadar was the only segment in the district which had witnessed a direct fight between the saffron party and the ruling dispensation in the 2014 polls even as 10 candidates were in fray. The voting percentage of BJD, BJP and Congress in 2014 was 50.44, 32.5 and 13.06 respectively. In 2009, while Kalindi Behera had bagged 71,613 votes with a voting percentage of 63.78, his nearest rival Congress candidate Asima Mahananda had secured 22, 287 votes with 19.84 percent of vote share.
JP candidate Dillip Mallik was in the third position. He had bagged 15,407 votes and registered 13.72 percent of vote share for the party. While the saffron party’s vote sharing percentage has increased considerably, the ruling BJD has taken a hit. Blame it on anti-incumbency factor or the Modi wave, Chandra Sarathi is now finding it hard to tackle dissidence and anti-incumbency.
The Minister, who is fighting the elections with developmental and welfare as his poll plank hopes the mandate will go in his favour again due to the popularity of Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik. Mallik on the other hand has been highlighting inadequate attention to the constituency by the ruling party.
Several dissident local BJD leaders like sitting Cuttack Sadar block chairperson Srimantini Behera, former block chief Satya Jena and Sadhu Jena have joined BJP and are campaigning for Mallik. “Voters have already rejected the Congress candidate while the BJD candidate is not associated with Cuttack Sadar constituency. Hence voters will go for the son of the soil,” said Mallik.