CUTTACK: ANTI-incumbency and rebellion in the party ranks has made the electoral battle in Niali Assembly segment under Jagastinghpur Lok Sabha a tough one for sitting BJD MLA Pramod Mallick this time.
His candidature had not gone down well with local party workers who had submitted a memorandum to the BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik against his nomination. Besides, hundreds of BJD workers led by leader Trupti Ranjan Behera had staged demonstration in front of Naveen Niwas raising slogans against Mallick.
The dissidents accused him of taking percentage commission (PC) for every project which has brought the BJD and CM Naveen Patnaik a bad name in the area.
Going against the anti-Mallick mood, the BJD gave him ticket but the two-time MLA is now facing an uphill task to keep the flock together. While Mallick is banking on Naveen’s popularity and BJD welfare schemes to win the seat, the Opposition candidates used corruption allegations against him as their poll planks.
Further, if one goes by Mallick’s winning margins in last two elections, his popularity has come down. While he had won the 2009 poll by a margin of 50,653 votes, his winning difference in 2014 election halved to 25,809 despite the Naveen wave.
Although there are eight candidates in fray for the constituency which goes to polls on Monday, the main contest is between BJD and BJP while the Congress has lagged behind.
While BJP has fielded Chhabi Mallik who quit Congress to join the saffron party, Congress has fielded Mamata Bhoi. Chhabi had contested from the seat as Congress nominee in 2014 and was placed in second position. Denied ticket, Arta Trana Mallik and Abhimanyu Mallik left BJD and Congress respectively and joined BJP. They are also campaigning for Chhabi.
Exuding confidence of winning the election, Chhabi said the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, people’s dissatisfaction over BJD misrule would sway voters in his favour.
While Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik canvassed for Pramod, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and bureacrat-turned-politician Aparajita Sarangi have campaigned for Chhabi in the segment. Former Congress MLA Rabindra Mallik campaigned for Mamata.