BHADRAK: Bhadrak parliamentary constituency is all set to witness the passing of batons between two generations of political families in 2019 General Elections. Abhimanyu Sethi, son of five-time MP Arjun Sethi and Madhumita Sethi, daughter of two-time MP Ananta Sethi, are making their political debut this time. While Abhimanyu has been fielded by BJP, Madhumita is the Congress candidate for the Lok Sabha seat.
These two debutants are facing Manjulata Mandal of the BJD. Manjulata is the wife of Dhamnagar MLA Mukti Mandal who has been denied a ruling party ticket in the polls. Bhadrak will go to polls in the fourth and final phase on April 29.
Bhadrak Lok Sabha constituency, a reserved seat, consists of seven Assembly segments - Bhadrak, Bhandaripokhari, Basudevpur, Chandabali, Dhamnagar in Bhadrak district and Nilagiri and Simulia in Balasore. Over 40 per cent of voters in the constituency are Scheduled Castes.
Since 1984, Congress has won from Bhadrak constituency only once in 1996 elections while the Janata Dal, which was later rechristened as Biju Janata Dal, bagged the seat seven times. In 2014 polls, BJD candidate Arjun had won from the seat by securing 46 per cent votes, while Congress and BJP bagged 30 per cent and 20 per cent votes respectively.
However, Arjun quit BJD after his son was denied a ticket by the party to contest the polls. The veteran leader joined BJP which has fielded Abhimanyu from the seat. Sources said the saffron party is hopeful of putting up a better show this time with Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh and Dharmendra Pradhan stepping up campaigning for Abhimanyu.
The Congress, which has fared poorly in the last couple of elections due to internal bickering, is yet to overcome infighting in the party this time too. The party is yet to start any high-voltage campaign though it is hopeful of getting votes from the minority community.
On the other hand, the BJD is ahead of BJP and Congress in campaigning. Though a number of district and block-level leaders have resigned from BJD, all the seven incumbent MLAs are from the ruling party.
Poll observers said BJD is in an advantageous position as the ruling party candidates in five of the seven Assembly segments under the constituency are ahead in the poll race.