Odisha Elections 2024: Independent Candidates Giving Tough Fight In Jatani

Bhubaneswar: Amid rapidly changing political configurations, Jatani Assembly segment under Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency is witnessing an interesting electoral battle this time. All equations have been thrown haywire after veteran leader Suresh Routray’s pilot son Manmath joined Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and became the ruling party’s candidate for Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat. Confusion reigns supreme over the role of traditional Congress workers in the area. No one knows to which side the Congress old-timers will tilt in the upcoming polls in Jatani Assembly seat. While BJD has again fielded Bibhuti Bhusan Balabantaray, BJP has also repeated Biswaranjan Badajena in the Assembly segment. After the exit of Sura Routray, Congress has nominated Santosh Kumar Jena. However, two independent candidates – AMD Manwar Ali and Sujit Balabantaray – have conducted high-voltage campaign with massive show of strength ahead of the polling.

Sura Confusion In Congress

Veteran leader Sura Routray had won the election from Jatni Assembly seat in 2019. However, he has been expelled from Congress for anti-party activities, while his son is contesting from Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha seat as BJD nominee. After being ousted from the grand old party, Sura was openly campaigning for his son. All eyes are now set on Sura’s supporters to know whom they are going to support. No one knows if they will support BJD or back Congress nominee Santosh Jena as there seems to be utter confusion over their move. Those who were hopeful of getting Congress ticket are also unhappy after the party nominated Santosh. It is not clear how much support the Congress candidate will get from local workers.

Worries For BJD

After being renominated by the ruling BJD, Bibhuti reached out to the people telling them about Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s plan for the development of Odisha. However, Manmath’s presence appears to be confusing him. While Sura is openly campaigning for Manmath, Bibhuti is not sure whether the veteran leader’s supporters will back him. Sura and Bibhuti have fought elections as rivals in the past. BJP candidate Biswaranjan, on his part, was highlighting ‘Modi Guarantee’ and the various welfare and development programmes being implemented by the Central government.

Independent Candidates To Upset Equations!

Despite the presence of seasoned politicians in the fray, two independent candidates are giving tough fight to the nominees of three major political parties. AMD Manwar Ali of the Nabanirman Krushak Sangathan has held big rallies and travelled in tractor across the constituency to garner support from the voters. Similarly, Sujit Balabantaray undertook door-to-door campaign and organised women’s conventions to woo the voters. Both the independent candidates made growing unemployment and farmers’ plight their main poll issues. Highlighting people’s problems, they promised to provide solutions to local problems if elected. They are likely to play a significant role in deciding the poll outcome in Jatani by making a dent into the votes of political parties. No one knows whose votes they are going to bag.

Candidates of BJD, BJP and Congress conducted marathon campaigns in their bid to taste victory in the constituency. Jatani, which had remained a Congress stronghold for many years, slipped into BJD control in 2004. However, the seat again returned to Congress fold in 2019 when Sura Routray emerged victorious. BJP has never won any electoral battle from the constituency. All are now eager to know as to who will bag the minority votes. Jatani performance is also likely to influence the pattern of voting in Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency.

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