KENDRAPARA: Rajnagar Assembly segment under Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency is all set to witness a close contest among the Congress, BJD and BJP. Sitting MLA and Congress candidate Ansuman Mohanty is facing tough competition from BJD’s Dhruba Charana Sahoo and former Rajnagar MLA and BJP nominee Alekha Jena. In 2014 elections, Ansuman, son of former minister late Nalinikanta Mohanty, was elected from the segment by defeating BJD’s Dhruba.
The elections will put to test the popularity of BJD and its leader Naveen Patnaik in Rajnagar from where Nalinikanta won seven times in a trot from 1977 to 2009. In 2009 polls, Nalinikanta tasted defeat at the hands of Alekha who was a BJD candidate then. During his tenure, Nalinikanta carried out many development works in the river-locked areas of Rajnagar. Ansuman is banking on his father’s popularity to retain the seat this time.
Similarly, Dhruba is relying on the popularity of BJD supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The ruling party candidate said, “It is a fight between corrupt Congress and the clean image of BJD. The electorate in Rajnagar will reject the Congress and vote in favour of BJD in the elections.” However, BJD is facing dissidence from several party leaders who are determined to queer the pitch for Dhruba, sources said.
Ansuman alleged that the BJD Government has neglected Rajnagar. “People are not getting drinking water and most of the schools here have no teachers. Healthcare is in dire straits due to non-appointment of doctors in hospitals,” said the Congress candidate.
Countering the charges of Ansuman, Dhruba said despite Nalinikanta Mohanty being a Minister from 1990 to 1995 and 2000 to 2002, he failed to carry out any development works in the segment. “His son’s allegation against the BJD is like the pot calling the kettle black,” he said.
Meanwhile, BJP candidate Alekha has intensified campaigning in the segment. He is hoping that people’s disenchantment with the two principal rivals Congress and BJD would make them look towards BJP. This apart, Alekha is depending on the various welfare schemes launched by the BJP Government at the Centre and popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sail through the polls.
The locals, on the other hand, are upset over lack of development in the region. Rabindra Das, a villager of Dangamala, said Bhitarkanika National Park and the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley turtles at Gahiramatha are situated in Rajnagar. However, the State Government has not done anything to promote eco-tourism in the area, he rued.
Echoing similar sentiments, Debendra Sahoo, another local, said the much-hyped drinking water project in Pattamundai NAC is yet to be completed. The local issues, which are aplenty, will have a bearing on the outcome of the polls, he added.