PURI: Stakes are high for Samir Ranjan Dash of BJD who is contesting from the Nimapara Assembly segment that would go to polls in the fourth phase on Monday.
Seeking a third consecutive term, Dash is facing a stiff challenge from opponents Pravati Parida, the BJP Mahila Morcha State president and Dilip Nayak of Congress.
The segment under Jagatsinghpur Parliamentary constituency has witnessed several twists and turns in the last few days. The BJD hopes to grab the vote bank of Congress with Satyabrata Patra, the district Congress president who unsuccessfully contested in 2009 and 2014, joining the ruling party.
This has brightened the prospects of BJD nominee Dash who is facing strong anti- incumbency factor this time. The two-time MLA plans to retain the seat with the help of his strong organisational base and popularity of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. In the last election, Dash had defeated Patra by around 40,000 votes.
On the other hand, Parida has faced defeat twice - as BJP nominee in 2014 and as Independent in 2014 - but in the last five years she has worked hard on the ground and strengthened the saffron party in the segment. She has also managed to bring a lot of BJD workers to BJP fold in Nimapara. This election, she is banking on the Modi wave, her organisational strength and anti-incumbency against Dash to win the battle.
The Congress has fielded Nayak, who was an aspirant from BJP and joined the party after being ignored. He is the chairman of Nimpara-Gop Nabanirman Parishad. He has managed to hold the party together after exit of Patra and readied it to give a tough fight to Dash and Parida.