BJD dug its own grave in Koraput, wiped out

Of the five Assembly and one LS seat, the BJD did not win even one
BJD symbol used for representational purposes only
BJD symbol used for representational purposes only(File photo)

JEYPORE: The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has faced a complete wipeout in the tribal-dominated Koraput district, failing to secure any of the five Assembly seats or the Lok Sabha seat. This defeat is being attributed to poor candidate selection and internal dissension within the party.

Out of the five Assembly constituencies—Kotpad, Koraput, Pottangi, Jeypore, and Laxmipur—and the Koraput Lok Sabha seat, the BJD did not win a single seat, forcing the party to introspect on its electoral strategy.

The BJD’s troubles began with the selection of Kausalya Hikaka for the Koraput MP seat, banking on the credentials of her husband, Jhina Hikaka. Despite suggestions to field more active party members, Hikaka, who had been largely inactive since her 2019 defeat, was chosen. This decision did not augur well with party supporters, leading to her loss by a huge margin of 1,47,744 votes to Congress’ Saptagiri Ulaka, who secured 471,393 votes.

BJP candidate, Kaliram Majhi, finished third with 232,514 votes. Ulaka’s victory margin increased dramatically from just 3,613 votes in 2019.

In the Jeypore seat, the BJD selected Indira Nanda, wife of former minister Rabi Nanda, despite internal feedback favouring other candidates. This choice led to dissension within the party and contributed to Indira Nanda’s defeat by Congress’ Tara Prasad Bahinipati, who won by 12,877 votes, marking his third consecutive term.

The Kotpad Assembly seat saw a similar issue, where the BJD replaced sitting MLA Padmini Dian with Chandra Sekhar Majhi, a former Congress member. This decision caused internal rifts, aiding BJP candidate Rupu Bhatra to win by 25,837 votes. Bhatra received 74,397 votes, while Majhi secured 48,560. In Koraput, the party reselected incumbent MLA Raghuram Padal, despite demands for a stronger candidate. This choice resulted in BJP’s Raghuram Machha winning by 2,338 votes. Machha secured 46,355 votes, while Padal managed 44,017 votes.

Laxmipur faced issues of internal division over the selection of MLA Prabhu Jani, who was deemed to be an underperformer by party workers. The decision not to replace him with former MLA Kailash Kulesika led to a significant number of BJD supporters defecting to the BJP. Congress candidate Pabitra Saunta won the seat by 20,922 votes, securing 58,741 votes to Jani’s 37,819.

In Pottangi, internal displeasure followed the replacement of sitting MLA Pritam Padhi with Prafulla Pangi. The lack of support from Padhi’s loyalists resulted in Congress candidate Ramchandra Kadam winning by 1,907 votes, with 52,024 votes to Pangi’s 50,117. Senior BJD leader and observer Surya Narayan Rath attributed the party’s losses to the effective spread of BJP’s campaign promises.

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