SAMBALPUR: With Congress fielding a relatively weak candidate for the coveted Sambalpur Assembly segment, a direct fight is on cards between sitting BJD MLA Raseswari Panigrahi and former Minister Jayanarayan Mishra of BJP.
Raseswari, a Gynaecologist, is banking on the various development works undertaken during her tenure to woo voters. However, her lack of organisational skills may dent the BJD’s vote bank in the segment. This time, she is facing a tough fight from Jayanarayan who has represented the segment thrice. The BJP candidate has considerable influence over slum dwellers and residents of old town area of Sambalpur city.
Jayanarayan is trying to woo the voters by raising issues like failure of the BJD Government and development works undertaken by the NDA Government at the Centre. Congress candidate Ashwini Pujahari, the former director VSS Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (VIMSAR), Burla is a novice to politics and has no base in the constituency. He has been assuring overall development of Sambalpur and better health care facilities in the area.
The Sambalpur Assembly segment comprises a major portion of Sambalpur Municipal Corporation along with Burla and Hirakud. Though Raseswari was a ‘parachute candidate’ in the 2014 polls, she managed to grab the seat by defeating Jayanarayan by a margin of 9,958 votes. While Raseswari got 48,362 votes in the 2014 elections, Jayanarayan managed to get 38,404 votes. Sureshwar Mishra of Congress got 19,020 votes.
In the 2009 polls, Jayanarayan had defeated Sureshwar by a margin of 7,010 votes.