Odisha Elections 2024: Dilip Ray Entry Spices Up Rourkela Battle, But Can He Win?

Rourkela: The return of seasoned political leader and former Union Minister Dilip Ray into active politics is all set to spice up the electoral battle in Rourkela Assembly constituency this time. With political dynamics undergoing tremendous transformation following Dilip’s entry, it may turn out to be an uphill task for the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and its candidate Sarada Prasad Nayak to retain the seat.


Dilip is contesting as a candidate of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, following denial of BJP ticket Nihar Ray is also contesting from Rourkela as an independent candidate and his presence in the fray may create hurdles in Dilip’s way. No one is certain whether Narendra Modi wave or Naveen Patnaik magic will attract voters in the steel city.

Changed Scene With Dilip Entry

Dilip has descended on Rourkela poll turf after ten years, changing the political configurations in the constituency which is now witnessing new atmosphere after a decade. Wielding considerable influence in Odisha politics since the days of legendary leader Biju Patnaik, the former Union Minister was elected to the state Assembly from Rourkela thrice in 1985, 1990 and 2014. He is known for his vociferous demand for construction of a second bridge on Brahmani River and establishment of a super speciality hospital in Rourkela. As his demands were not fulfilled by the Union government, Dilip had resigned from BJP in 2018 but the party did not accept it. Following such a major move, he had emerged as a ‘hero’ before the masses in the area. Therefore, it is being speculated that the seasoned politician may garner public support in a big way in the elections.

Will Nihar Spoil The Pitch?

Nihar Ray, who revolted and jumped into the fray as an independent candidate following denial of ticket, may become a cause of headache for BJP. Having contested the 2019 elections as a BJP nominee, he was hopeful of getting party ticket this time too. However, he staged an open revolt after BJP nominated Dilip. A former chairperson of Rourkela Municipality, Nihar had polled more than 50,000 voted in the last elections. Dilip may encounter enormous trouble if Nihar manages to effect split in BJP votes.

Sarada Nayak Factor

The ruling BJD has pitted sitting MLA Sarada Nayak, who was elected from Rourkela Assembly seat thrice in 2004, 2009 and 2019. Known for his organising skills and popularity, Sarada is likely to give a tough fight to the BJP leader. He has also served as a minister. The BJD leader was defeated by Dilip in 2014 polls by over 11,000 votes. Sarada did not face Dilip in the three Assembly elections he has won and Rourkela is all set to witness a big fight between the two leaders this time.

Modi Magic Vs Naveen Charisma

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been visiting Odisha frequently as part of BJP’s aggressive campaign in the state. Modi, who addressed a series of election rally during his last visits, mounted a stinging attack on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. His tours have given tremendous boost to the morale of BJP cadres and created a wave against the ruling BJD in the state. However, BJD has been reaching out to the people highlighting its development agenda by listing out Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium and airport in Rourkela. While Congress has fielded Birendra Nath Patnaik in the constituency, the fight is set to be between BJP and BJD.

In past elections, voters in Rourkela have supported individual candidates by gauging their performance and qualities instead of backing any particular political party blindly. Though Rourkela has been named the second smart city in the state, questions are often raised over lack of basic amenities in the area. Diarrhoea outbreak caused by the supply of contaminated water allegedly claimed the lives of some people in December 2023. Political observers are of the view that voters are not going to be swayed by high-voltage campaign by any political party and their support will be based on performance, work and track record.

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