BHUBANESWAR: As one embarks on a journey from the Capital city to Khandapada passing through two Lok Sabha and six Assembly constituencies, a picture of divided voters’ preference emerges from the area which is going to polls in the third phase on April 23.The ruling BJD remains the predominant and most visible political party as banners and posters of the party’s candidates and large cut outs of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dot the area creating a feeling that the regional outfit will easily make it in this elections. However, scratch a little on the surface and the story changes.
Sarat Kumar Sahu, a tea stall owner at Begunia, said that the mood is for a change. But he is not so sure about the Assembly segment where voters will have their own preferences. He was talking about the Lok Sabha constituency for which he did not have hesitation to predict the outcome. “This time the vote will be for Modi and Aparajita Sarangi,” he said.
Aparajita is the BJP candidate for the Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat under which Begunia is one of the Assembly segments. However, for Nari Sahu, a local sipping tea at the stall, the poll arithmetic is not so easy. Sahu said it will be very difficult to dislodge the BJD which has launched so many welfare schemes for people. Rajendra Sahu, sitting BJD MLA from Khurda and fielded by the regional outfit from Begunia in this election has an edge. After a lot of prodding, he, however, said that the Modi factor may change equations at the last minute.
The situation is different at Bhapur coming under the Khandapada Assembly segment of Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency. A BJD stronghold, it is very difficult to find posters and banners of BJP in this place. The BJD has fielded Rajya Sabha MP Soumya Ranjan Patnaik from the Assembly seat and he is facing Siddharth Sekhar Singh of BJP, a former BJD MLA and Basanta Kumar Maharana of Congress.
Dushmanta Swain, an Independent, is also giving a spirited fight. However, Patnaik seems to have edge as Anubhav Patnaik, the sitting BJD MLA who has been denied ticket, announced support for him.
There seems to be an undercurrent of support for Modi for Lok Sabha seat at other places of the Khandapada Assembly segment. At Padmavati village where BJP candidate Singh addressed a rally along with party leader and cinestar Maheswata Ray, several elderly persons openly announced their support for party’s Lok Sabha candidate Prakash Mishra.
However, they were not forthcoming when asked what will be their preference for the Assembly polls. A group of first time voters at this village also did not have any confusion about their preference. Most of the students of Padmavati village said they will support the BJP Lok Sabha candidate.Situation is more or less the same in Khurda and Jatni Assembly segments. Voter preference may be different in these seats, but the Modi factor remains the key.
While Jyotindra Nath Mitra (BJD) is facing Kalucharan Khandeitaray (BJP) and Swagatika Patnaik (Congress) in Khurda, senior Congress leader Suresh Kumar Routray is locked in a triangular fight with Bibhuti Bhusan Balabantaray (BJD) and Biswaranjan Badajena (Cong) in Jatni segment.