Jagatsinghpur: Will The Lotus Bloom In This BJD Stronghold?

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The high-profile Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency will be voting in the final phase of the elections in Odisha on April 29.

The ruling BJD has fielded its sitting Tirtol MLA Rajashri Mallick from the reserved constituency. She is pitted against BJP’s Bibhu Prasad Tarai and Pratima Mallick of the Congress.

All indications, however, point at a direct contest between BJD and BJP. The saffron party has never won this seat and hopes to open its account this time backed by a perceived surge in support for the party in the coastal districts.

BJP hopes that turncoat Tarai will swing the popular mandate in its favour.

An ex-MP from the seat, Tarai won it in 2009 contesting on a CPI ticket. Thereafter, he joined Congress and contested unsuccessfully in 2014. He was trounced by a margin of 2.76 lakh votes by BJD’s Kulamani Samal.

This time, Congress decided to repeat Tarai from this assembly seat, but he declined the ticket and joined BJP. “I do not see any future in the Congress as the party has diverted from its ideology. Therefore, I joined the BJP which has pledged to fight the BJD,” Tarai had told reporters.

The saffron brigade has also pinned its hope on former BJD strongman Damodar Raut, who joined BJP just before the elections. According to political observers, Rout’s presence in the party could tilt voters towards BJP to a limited extent.

The fact remains, BJD continues to hold sway over the constituency due to its organisational strength. And this time as well, it is confident of a win. The farming community, in particular, appeared unhappy with the BJP at the Centre for having faltered on the Mahanadi water sharing issue. “The Narendra Modi government has done nothing to solve the issue,” farmers in the district were quoted by media as saying.

Jagatsinghpur is spread over seven assembly segments, making it the largest Lok Sabha constituency in the State. The assembly seats are Jagatsinghpur, Erasama-Balikuda, Tirtol, Paradip Niali, Nimapara and Kakatpur.

Jagatsinghpur constituency came into existence in 1977. Janata party won the first election. Since then, Congress has won four times, Left thrice and BJD thrice.

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