Odisha LS polls: Dharmendra Pradhan wins Sambalpur, Purohit pockets Bargarh

Returning to electoral politics after a gap of 15 years, Pradhan had an easy win over Das despite the regional party’s all-out effort.
Dharmendra Pradhan addressing mediapersons on Tuesday
Dharmendra Pradhan addressing mediapersons on Tuesday Photo| Express

BHUBANESWAR: Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan won the high-pitched battle for Sambalpur Lok Sabha seat by defeating BJD’s organisational secretary and Jajpur MLA Pranab Prakash Das with a margin of nearly 1.2 lakh votes.

Pradhan secured 5,92,162 votes while Das polled 4,72,326 votes. Congress candidate Nagendra Kumar Pradhan came third with 89,113 votes.

Returning to electoral politics after a gap of 15 years, Pradhan had an easy win over Das despite the regional party’s all-out effort. From the beginning, Pradhan had an edge over his rival candidate as he had familiarity with the political terrain of Sambalpur and earlier represented the erstwhile Deogarh Lok Sabha seat.

His vote share from all the seven Assembly segments under Sambalpur LS seat was significant though BJP lost Rairakhol, Rengali and Athamallik. BJP’s resounding performances in Assembly segments like Kuchinda, Sambalpur, Deogarh and Chhendipada contributed to his winning margin.

Pradhan entered politics in 2000 and tasted victory from Pallahara Assembly constituency. He was then elected from Deogarh LS constituency in 2004. However, he lost to BJD’s Rabi Narayan Pani from Pallahara in 2009.

Subsequently, Pradhan was elected to Rajya Sabha from Bihar in 2012. When BJP stormed to power at the Centre under the leadership of Narendra Modi, he was made the Minister of State (Independent charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas. After his Rajya Sabha tenure ended in 2018, he was elected to the Upper House from Madhya Pradesh. In the Modi 2.0 government, he was made a cabinet minister with the same portfolio. In 2021, Pradhan became the Education Minister of the country.

The BJP also got a shot in the arm by retaining the Bargarh Lok Sabha seat. Party candidate Pradip Purohit won the seat by defeating BJD’s Parinita Mishra by a margin of 2.51 lakh votes. He polled 7,16,359 votes while Parinita bagged 4,64,692 votes. Congress candidate Sanjay Bhoi secured 93,551 votes.

A former MLA from Padampur Assembly constituency, Purohit had lost to BJD’s Barsa Singh Bariha in a by-election in November 2022. Despite Purohit’s defeat, the BJP reposed faith in him and nominated him from Bargarh Parliamentary seat by dropping sitting MP Suresh Pujari.

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