Odisha Elections 2024: Can Sukanta & Amir Stop High-Profile Achyuta Samanta In Kandhamal LS Seat?

Bhubaneswar: Considered a traditional stronghold of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha, Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency will remain a major centre of attention for pollsters in the upcoming elections. All eyes are now set on Kandhamal to see if sitting BJD MP Achyuta Samanta will get re-elected from the Parliamentary constituency for the second consecutive term.

While Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has fielded Sukanta Panigrahi to take on Achyuta Samanta, Congress has also announced its candidate for Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat. The grand old party, stung by a shrinking base in Kandhamal and elsewhere in the state, has nominated Amir Chand Nayak to contest the polls from the politically important constituency. While the main fight is expected to be between BJD and BJP, one has to wait for to know the final outcome amid fast changing political scenario in the state.

Ever since its formation, Kandhamal Parliamentary constituency has remained a BJD bastion. The Naveen Patnaik-led regional party is again relying on Achyuta Samanta, who won the seat in 20190 elections by polling a whopping 4,61,679 votes. He had defeated BJP’s Kharabela Swain by a huge margin of over 1.5 lakh votes. He is optimistic of registering an impressive victory this time also.

Armed with the strength of the empire of educational institutions founded by him, Achyuta Samanta has been playing a significant role in imparting free education to the poor children from remote and far-flung areas of the state. Founder of educational institutions like KIIT and KISS and hospitals like KIMS, Samanta has carved a special identity for himself over the years. Together with his own brand name, he is also highlighting the various welfare and development programmes being implemented by the BJD government in the state to woo the voters.

However, BJP will leave no stone unturned to capture the Lok Sabha seat. The saffron party has fielded Sukanta Panigrahi, who will be fighting his second Lok Sabha elections. He had contested the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, but faced a crushing defeat at the hustings. He has hit the poll turf with the slogan of bringing development in Kandhamal. He is getting ready to raise issues like road network, transport, communication, drinking water supply and irrigation in the region in order to seek votes. Sukanta will be banking heavily on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Central government’s development and welfare programmes.

Congress, on its part, appears to be finding it tough face the elections this time. While the grand old party announced its candidate for Kandhamal Lok Sabha seat on Tuesday, its dwindling base at the grassroots level is a major cause of worry. No one is sure in what form Amir Chand Nayak, who has been fielded by Congress, will be able to perform in the battlefield. H

The ruling BJD has been winning the seat since its formation. While Rudra Madhab Ray had won from Kandhamal in 2009 elections, Hemendra Singh of the regional party got elected in 2014. Following the demise of Hemendra, his wife Pratyusha Rajeswari fought the by-election and emerged victorious. However, the regional party nominated Achyuta Samanta in 2019 elections and registered an impressive victory.

Kandhamal Lok Sabha constituency comprises the Assembly segments of Baliguda, G Udayagiri, Phulbani, Kantamal, Boudh, Daspalla and Bhanjanagar and the ruling BJD has a very strong organisational base in all these areas. Despite the presence of Congress candidate in the fray, the Parliamentary constituency is likely to witness virtually a straight fight between BJD and BJP in the upcoming elections.

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