JAGATSINGHPUR: With scores of its workers joining the BJD, the fate of beleaguered Congress in Balikuda-Erasama Assembly segment depends on the efforts and vote bank of the CPI. The party has fielded Lalatendu Mohapatra, son of former Minister Basudev Mohapatra from the seat. Lalatendu had contested the 2014 elections from the constituency and was defeated by BJD candidate Prasant Muduli by a margin of 29,279 votes. The Balikuda-Erasama Assembly seat was once a Congress stronghold. Since 1951, Assembly elections have been held 15 times of which the party had won the seat, which was created in 2009, eight times.
The party’s plight has worsened in the 2019 elections due to conflicts among its workers and lack of leadership. With Sarada Jena, a ticket aspirant joining the BJD, the scenario has changed. Jena had contested the 2014 elections as an Independent candidate and was instrumental in dividing Congress’ votes in the segment. Another Congress leader Sibabrat Das also joined the BJD recently and this has weakened the party further in the constituency.
In order to fill the void, the Congress has approached CPI workers to give its campaign a much needed boost. However, political analysts believe CPI would not be of much help to Congress as its candidate Abhijit Sahoo had got a meagre 5,260 votes in the 2014 polls. Despite the crisis, Mopapatra is confident of winning the seat.
He said Jena and Das’ resignation from Congress would not affect the party’s prospects in the segment. Local CPI leader Sasibhusan Swain said, “We have decided to extend all cooperation to the Congress in this elections. CPI has a good base in Erasama.”