BHUBANESWAR: The fight for the last and final phase polls scheduled on Monday in the coastal and northern Odisha constituencies seems to have emerged as the most challenging for the ruling BJD with the Opposition BJP making all out efforts to make a dent in the region which was an impregnable fort of the regional outfit till the last elections.
Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seats and 41 Assembly constituencies in them will go to polls in the fourth phase. Elections to the Patkura Assembly segment will be held on May 19.
The last phase election has assumed significance because of the Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat which has taken the form of a grudge fight between Baijayant Panda of the BJP and the ruling BJD which fielded reigning Ollywood superstar and Rajya Sabha member Anubhav Mohanty. Congress with strong presence in at least four Assembly segments in the Lok Sabha seat has renominated eminent lawyer Dharanidhar Nayak.
Though the BJD has fielded Anubhav, Kendrapara is actually witnessing a fight between Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Baijayant with the former leaving no stone unturned to see that the latter is not there in next Parliament. However, Baijayant is banking on his connection with the constituency during the last two terms as BJD MP to tide over the challenge.
The surge in the popularity of BJP during the 2017 Zilla Parishad polls has also made things difficult for the ruling BJD in Mayurbhanj Lok Sabha seat where it has fielded Debashish Marandi, a new face. However, BJD had won all the seven Assembly segments as well as the Lok Sabha seat in 2014 polls. While Anjali Soren, daughter of JMM chief Shibu Soren has entered the fray as Congress has not fielded a candidate as part of seat adjustment with the party, the BJP has fielded Bisweswar Tudu. Pratap Chandra Sarangi, BJP nominee from Balasore, seems to be banking on Modi factor to wrest the Lok Sabha seat from Rabindra Jena, whom the ruling BJD has renominated.
The fight in the Lok Sabha seat is likely to be triangular as Congress has fielded Navajyoti Patnaik, son of president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) Niranjan Patnaik from the seat. Besides, the fight in Bhadrak seat has also turned tricky with Manjulata Mandal (BJD), Madhumita Sethi (Congress) and Avimanyu Sethi (BJP) in the fray.
The BJD, however, does not see any serious challenge for its nominees in Jajpur and Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha seats. The BJD had won all the six Lok Sabha seats going to polls on Monday in the 2014 elections. Out of 41 Assembly segments, the party had won 36 while Congress and BJP had won four and one respectively.