Koraput constituency offers a fascinating fight

The 2019 poll was a close contest between Saptagiri and Kausalya but BJP’s growing vote share in the constituency could add a twist.
Koraput constituency offers a fascinating fight

KORAPUT: A triangular fight is in the offing in the Koraput Lok Sabha constituency where Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka will be locked in an intense fight with BJD candidate Kausalya Hikaka and BJP nominee and its ST Morcha national general secretary Kaliram Majhi.

The 2019 poll was a close contest between Saptagiri and Kausalya but BJP’s growing vote share in the constituency could add a twist.

A traditional Congress stronghold, the Lok Sabha seat was represented by veteran leader and former Chief Minister Giridhar Gamang nine times between 1972 and 2004.

Gamang, who quit Congress in 2015 only to rejoin in January this year, was elected for the first time to the 5th Lok Sabha. He was re-elected from the constituency in 1977, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1998 and 2004.

His wife, Hema Gamang, retained the seat for Congress in 1999 elections while Gamang was the Chief Minister of the state for a brief period.

The Congress, historically, held sway over this constituency but the Naveen Patnaik-led BJD broke through in the form of Jayaram Pangi and Jhina Hikaka. In 2009, the seat went to the regional party after Pangi defeated Gamang. The BJD retained the seat in 2014 when party candidate Jhina defeated Gamang by a slender margin.

However, in 2019 the Congress, despite its dismal performance in the general elections, recaptured the Koraput seat with Saptagiri defeating BJD’s Kausalya, spouse of Jhina Hikaka, by a close margin.

Formed in 1957, the Koraput parliamentary constituency has been a focal point of political activity, witnessing 17 general elections to date. It comprises seven key Assembly segments Pottangi, Laxmipur, Jeypore, Koraput, Rayagada, Gunupur, and Bissam Cuttack, spanning Koraput and Rayagada districts.

Now, as the nation gears up for the upcoming general elections, the political landscape is vibrant. Sitting MP Saptagiri, a software engineer, seeks re-election, armed with a strong track record of actively engaging in parliamentary debates and voicing constituents’ concerns, although political analysts also note a gap in direct grassroots connectivity.

On the other hand, BJD has banked on Kausalya Hikaka for the second time, continuing its commitment to regional representation.

The BJP candidate, Kaliram Majhi, a highly educated youth from Kashipur region of Rayagada district, carries the weight of dedicated service to his party since 2008, earning trust from party leadership, including Prime Minister Modi.

Post-nomination, Majhi is immersed in rural outreach, connecting with constituents in remote villages, a key strategy in this tribal-reserved parliamentary segment where community dynamics significantly influence electoral outcomes. The saffron party which secured about 9 pc votes in 2014 elections improved it to over 19 pc in 2019. It will seek to improve further this time.

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