Odisha: Panda left Naveen Patnaik, people of Kendrapara deserted him says Anshuman Mohanty

He says that if we go through the history of the constituency, candidates who were either with Biju Babu or Naveen Patnaik have always won. Those who opposed, have lost.
Anshuman Mohanty
Anshuman MohantyPhoto | Express

There were murmurs of discontentment within a section of BJD in Kendrapara district when Anshuman Mohanty, former Congress MLA from Rajnagar and son of late veteran leader Nalini Kanta Mohanty, was inducted to the party and subsequently fielded as the party’s candidate from Kendrapara Lok Sabha seat. The fact that he is pitched against Baijayant Panda, the BJP national vice-president, has made his task all the more tough. In an interview with Bijay Chaki, Anshuman exudes confidence and says he will win on the strength of the Biju legacy

You are pitted against a tall figure like Baijayant Panda, national vice-president of BJP, who was also the MP from Kendrapara twice in the past. How do you assess your chances?

Kendrapara was the ‘karmabhoomi’ of Biju Patnaik. People of the area were with Biju Babu and are now with his son Naveen Patnaik. My father Nalini Kanta Mohanty was also a close aide of Biju Babu and elected from Rajnagar Assembly segment for a record seven times. I have served people in my limited sphere as Rajnagar MLA. I am a son of the soil and come from a political family of the region. I think people will repose faith in me.

Baijayant Panda had polled more than 4.5 lakh votes from Kendrapara as BJP’s candidate in 2019. Do you think it will be easy to defeat him?

I know he is a very tall leader. He was also elected from the seat twice. But then he was with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. People of the area strongly believe the chief minister carries the Biju legacy with him. When Panda left the chief minister, people of Kendrapara also deserted him. If you go through the history of the constituency, candidates who were either with Biju Babu or Naveen Patnaik have always won. Those who opposed, have lost.

As a former MP from the seat, Baijayant is well- known in Kendrapara. People must be proud that he has attained such heights in BJP and is in its national political scheme. There may be split voting to elect him from the seat this time because of the growing popularity of BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

As far as I have assessed going around the constituency after getting nominated from the seat as the BJD candidate, people are certainly going to ask him about his contribution to the development of the district. He cannot take credit for rail connectivity in Kendrapara. Former MPs Srikant Jena and Prabhat Samantaray had initiated the work in this regard. But he is trying to take sole credit for this.

The sitting MP from Kendrapara Anubhav Mohanty quit BJD and joined BJP. Nomination of former Congress MLA Ganeswar Behera from Kendrapara Assembly segment by BJD has also led to resignations. Don’t you think such developments will have an impact on your chances?

There has been no opposition to my candidature. Not a single leader from the BJD has opposed my joining the party. As far as Ganeswar Behera is concerned, he is an efficient leader. He needed a platform. Congress failed to provide platforms to me as well as Ganeswar Babu to serve people of the area. People urged Ganeswar Babu to leave Congress and join BJD. I am confident BJD will win from the Lok Sabha and Assembly seats with a good margin.

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