BHUBANESWAR: Ina few hours, fate of many heavyweights cutting across the political spectrum will be sealed in the ballot boxes of six Lok Sabha and 42 Assembly constituencies going to polls in the third phase on Tuesday. The focus will be mainly on the three coastal Odisha Lok Sabha seats - Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri where the ruling BJD is facing a stiff challenge from the opposition BJP. As the three major political parties in the State - BJD, BJP and Congress - were giving finishing touches to poll preparations, the ruling party suffered a setback on Monday after its Pipili candidate and former minister Pradeep Maharathy was arrested in connection with the attack on the flying squad of Election Commission during a raid on his farm house.
The Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency will witness a big fight between BJP’s Aparajita Sarangi, who took voluntary retirement from IAS, and former Mumbai top cop and retired IPS officer Arup Patnaik of BJD. The Congressbacked CPM candidate Janardan Pati is also trying his luck from the constituency. Another retired IPS is making his political debut in Cuttack against BJD’s fivetime MP Bhartruhari Mahatab. Veteran leader Panchanan Kanungo has entered the fray from Cuttack Lok Sabha seat as the Congress candidate.
Similarly, Puri Lok Sabha constituency will witness an interesting fight between two known television faces - prominent Supreme Court lawyer of BJD Pinaki Mishra and national spokesperson of BJP and a doctor by profession Sambit Patra. In fact, Patra has made the fight for the prestigious seat colourful by his innovative way of campaigning. Though Congress fielded a new face Satya Prakash Nayak from the constituency, the contest seems to be mainly between the BJD and BJP.
The fate of president of Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik will also be decided on Tuesday. Patnaik is locked in a fight with his arch rival and senior BJD Minister Badri Narayan Patra from Ghasipura Assembly segment in Keonjhar district. The third phase polls will also decide the fate of former mayor and BJD nominee from Bhubaneswar Central Assembly segment Ananta Narayan Jena. Jena has been admitted to the ICU of Capital Hospital here following an alleged attack by political rivals last night.
Prior to the ‘assault’ on Jena, his rival and BJP candidate from the seat Jagannath Pradhan was also attacked while campaigning in the constituency. Besides, Tourism Minister Ashok Chandra Panda is trying his luck again from Ekamra-Bhubaneswar segment as a BJD candidate while Rajya Sabha Member Soumya Ranjan Patnaik is in the poll fray from Khandapara Assembly seat on a ruling party ticket. The Sambalpur Lok Sabha constituency will witness a triangular contest between BJD nominee and retired secretary in the Works department Nalini Kanta Mohanty, BJP candidate Nitesh Gang Deb and Sarat Patnaik of Congress, who is a former OPCC president.
The fate of former ministers and young turks of BJD Sanjay Dasburma and Arun Sahu will also be decided on Tuesday. The third phase polls is also crucial for Congress veteran KP Singhdeo who has entered the fray again against Mahesh Sahu of BJD and BJP’s Rudra Narayan Pani from Dhenkanal Lok Sabha seat.