BHUBANESWAR: As campaign ended on Saturday for the fourth and final phase of polls in Odisha scheduled on April 29, Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik gave the final push for the victory of candidates of the regional outfit in Kendrapara Lok Sabha constituency and Assembly seats under it by conducting road shows at several places.
The fourth phase has turned out to be the most challenging for the ruling BJD, which is fighting a combination of Modi factor and strong resentment against the local leaders, to retain the seats.
Fate of three heavyweights - BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda, BJD Rajya Sabha member and reigning superstar of Ollywood Anubhav Mohanty and Dharanidhar Nayak (Congress) - will be decided in the high profile parliamentary constituency which has attracted national attention. Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seats and 41 Assembly segments will go to polls in the fourth phase. Election to Patkura Assembly constituency will be held on May 19.
BJD’s Debashis Marandi is fighting against BJP candidate Bishweshwar Tudu and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha’s (JMM) Anjani Soren, daughter of party chief Shibu Soren in the Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat. Anjani is the JMM-Congress alliance candidate from the seat. The electoral battle from the parliamentary constituency has turned out to be crucial as the BJP is trying to wrest the seat from the ruling BJD basing on its strong performance in the 2017 Zilla Parishad polls. BJD had denied ticket to sitting MP Ram Chandra Hansdah from the seat.
The last day witnessed hectic campaigning in the constituency with BJP national president Amit Shah addressing an election meeting at Moroda where he launched a scathing attack on the BJD Government in Odisha for its all round failure.
The Bhadrak Lok Sabha seat will witness a triangular fight. The BJP has fielded Abhimayu Sethi, son of sitting BJD MP Arjun Charan Sethi who quit the regional outfit to join the saffron party after his son was denied a ticket for the seat.
Manjulata Mandal, wife of sitting Dhamnagar MLA Muktikanta Mandal, is contesting from BJD while Congress has fielded Madhumita Sethi, daughter of senior Congress leader Ananta Charan Sethi.
The Balasore seat is also set for a triangular contest among Rabindra Kumar Jena whom the BJD has renominated, BJP’s Pratap Sarangi and Congress candidate Navajyoti Patnaik, son of OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik.
In Jajpur, BJD has fielded former state administrative officer Sarmistha Sethi where BJP’s Amiya Kanta Mallick and Manas Jena of Congress are making all out efforts to wrest the seat from the regional outfit. In Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seat, BJD MLA from Tirtol Rajashri Mallick is facing BJP’s Bibhu Prasad Tarai and Congress candidate Pratima Mallick.
In Assembly segments, several ministers including Prafulla Samal (Bhandaripokhari), Anant Das (Bhograi), Shashi Bhusan Behera (Kendrapara) and Pratap Jena (Mahanga) are also testing their popularity. The Bhandaripokhari Assembly seat is witnessing a tough fight between OPCC president Niranjan Patnaik and senior Minister Prafulla Samal.
The fourth phase polls will decide the electoral fortune of 388 candidates - 52 in Lok Sabha seats and 336 in 41 Assembly constituencies. As many as 95,14,883 voters, including 46,05,694 women, are eligible to exercise their franchise in the fourth phase of balloting in the State.