JAJPUR: Retaining the Jajpur Parliamentary constituency seems like an uphill task for the BJD. The party, as per its new strategy, has changed its incumbent MP Rita Tarei and brought in a new face Sarmistha Sethy to contest for the seat. While BJP has placed its faith on its old war horse Amiya Malik, Congress too has fielded a new face Manoj Jena from the constituency.
The Jajpur Parliamentary constituency was once a Congress bastion. The grand old party has won the Lok Sabha seat as many as seven times since 1952. It had last won the seat in 1998. The BJD wrested the seat from Congress in 1999 and the seat has been with the regional party since then. This time, the fate of the BJD Lok Sabha candidate depends on the performance of the seven Assembly seats under the constituency.
Tarei had won the seat with a huge margin of 3.2 lakh votes in 2014. But Sethy may not have a smooth sailing this time. Although the BJD still has all the seven Assembly seats in its fold, the vote share of its candidates in at least two segments - Bari and Korei, may be less than the 2014 polls.
This apart, the BJD MP candidate had procured at least 2.13 lakh of the total 5.41 lakh votes from Jajpur and Dharmasala Assembly constituencies in 2014. This time, the party’s vote share in these two Assembly constituencies is likely to be lesser than the previous elections due to rise in vote share of the BJP. Besides, the vote share of the regional party may also decline in the rest five Assembly seats as the saffron party has been strengthening its base in the constituency for the last couple of years.
Besides erosion of BJD votes, the BJP has witnessed a surge in the district since the last panchayat elections. The BJP’s vote share was 1.5 lakh in the elections of 2014. However, the vote share of the saffron party doubled in the last rural polls and it stood second in the district. The worrying factor for the BJD is that it lost 6 per cent of its vote share while BJP increased its vote share to 30 per cent from 15.
It is being observed, among all contestants that BJP candidate Amiya Malik has more accessibility which will surely increase his vote bank. Political observers are of the opinion that as BJD has fielded a new face to make a dent in BJP votes, the anger in the ruling party camp over denial of ticket to its Bari and Korei incumbents, erosion of vote base and strengthening of saffron base in all Assembly seats may mar Sethy’s chances this time.
A poll analyst opined that the BJP candidate is poised to give a tough challenge to the ruling BJD in the ensuing Jajpur reserved Lok Sabha seat this time. “Acceptability of the BJP candidate by the voters, erosion of BJD vote share and Modi wave may work for the BJP this time,” said Saifuddin, a poll analyst.