Odisha Elections 2024: Know The Assembly Seats Witnessing Big Fight In Phase-I

Bhubaneswar: As the countdown for the first phase of polling in Odisha begins, several Assembly seats are set to witness a big fight with a host of heavyweights of major political parties trying their luck. The electoral fate of several seasoned politicians will be sealed in the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in at least nine of the 28 Assembly seats going to polls on Monday.

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Nuapada

It will be an acid test for sitting MLA Rajendra Dholakia in Nuapada Assembly constituency as the seasoned leader rooted in the grassroot politics has formidable opponents this time. Dholakia faces Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Sarat Pattanayak. The PCC chief the Balangir MP for two terms, in 1991 and 1996, before delimitation of the constituency. He has highlighted BJD’s failure and spoke about his contribution to Nuapada’s development including establishment of the Navodaya school in Tarbod, a TV station in Nuapada, improvement in rail connectivity besides the inauguration of Patora dam during his tenure.

Amid this tough fight, BJP has fielded a new face Abhinandan Panda against the two heavyweights. Backed by his father Basanta Panda, also BJP’s Kalahandi MP and former MLA from the seat, Abhinandan aims to leverage his father’s influence and network in his favour. He is also riding on BJP’s growing footprint.

Bhawanipatna

BJP heavyweight and sitting MLA Pradipta Kumar Naik is locked in an intense three-way fight with his BJD and Congress rivals in the high-profile Bhawanipatna Assembly seat in Kalahandi district. A four-time MLA and former Minister, Naik had been made the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the state Assembly after his victory from this constituency in 2019 polls. The post later went to Jaynarayan Mishra due to Naik’s prolonged illness during Covid-19 epidemic. Playing the woman card, the ruling BJD has fielded Lalita Naik, wife of former MLA Dusmanta naik to take on the BJP stalwart. Congress, on the other hand, has again nominated Sagar Charan Das, son of former Union Minister Bhakta Charan Das. Sagar, who came third in the last elections in Bhawanipatna, seeks voters’ support with a call for change this time.

Narla

It will be an interesting fifth in Narla where Congress stalwart and former Union Minister Bhakta is contesting Assembly elections after many years. After making his entry into the state Assembly with a victory from Bhawanipatna in 1985 polls, Das, 3 became MP thrice and Union Minister twice. Apart from being the Odisha Congress campaign committee chairman, he is also in the screening committee of the grand old party in eight states. Das, who wields considerable influence in Kalahandi district and adjoining areas, faces BJD’s Manorama Mohanty, a panchayat samiti member and wife of prominent leader Durga Mohanty. Seeking to play the woman card, the ruling party dropped sitting MLA and former Minister Bhupinder Singh this time. BJP, on the other hand, has renominated Anirudh Pradhan, a farmer leader who was defeated by BJD’s Bhupinder Singh in 2019 elections.

Junagarh

The ruling BJD has renominated former Minister Dibya Shankar Mishra to contest from Junagarh in his third consecutive fight from the seat. Mishra, popularly known as Captain, was embroiled in a controversy following opposition attack over Mamita Meher murder case. The BJD leader had defeated BJP candidate Manoj Meher by over 27,000 votes in 2019 Assembly elections. While making all out efforts to capture the Assembly seat, BJP has renominated Manoj Meher. The saffron party worked hard to strengthen its organisation for the last five years. The BJP candidate is mainly banking on the work done by the Central government and the wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congress, on the other hand has fielded Tuleswar Nayak, a close confidant of senior leader and former Union Minister Bhakta Charan Das in Junagarh.

Jharigam

The ruling BJD has once again tribal heavyweight Ramesh Majhi in the regional party’s fortress in Jharigam Assembly constituency. Ramesh, who had won the seat in 2009 and 2014, contested and won from Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat in 2019. His brother Prakash Majhi, who was fielded by BJD in Jharigam in last elections, had emerged victorious. While Congress has nominated Harabati Ganda, party’s women cell joint secretary, BJP has fielded Narasingh Bhadra, who had quit teaching profession in 2019 and joined the saffron party.

Gopalpur

An interesting fight is in the offing in Gopalpur Assembly constituency, which comes under Berhampur Lok Sabha seat, with BJD fielding Bikram Panda, who had quit Congress and joined the regional party in 2019. Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Kumar Panigrahy is contesting from Berhampur Lok Sabha seat as BJP candidate this time. BJP has again fielded Bibhuti Bhusan Jena, who had been defeated by Pradeep in 2019 in Gopalpur. Once considered a close aide of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Pradeep was expelled from the ruling BJD for ‘anti-people’ activities and he subsequently joined the saffron party. Congress has fielded S S Sahu in Gopalpur this time.

Paralakhemundi

The incumbent BJP MLA, K Narayana Rao, is seeking re-election from the Assembly constituency which forms part of Berhampur Lok Sabha seat. This time he is facing a formidable challenge from Congress leader and former chief secretary Bijay Patnaik. Industrialist Rupesh Panigrahi, son of Tirupati Panigrahi, has been fielded by BJD in the Assembly constituency, making the contest triangular.

Jeypore

A high-profile fight is on the anvil in Jeypore Assembly seat in Koraput district where Congress heavyweight and four-time MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati is seeking re-election this time. The ruling BJD has nominated Indira Nanda, wife of former Minister Rabi Nanda, while BJP has fielded Goutam Samantaray from Jeypore constituency to take on Bahinipati.

Digapahandi

Once dominated by BJD veteran late Surjya Narayan Patro, the Assembly constituency may not offer a cakewalk for the ruling party this time. Following the demise of senior Patro, the regional party has fielded his son Biplab Patro as its candidate for the 2024 Assembly elections. However, it may not be smooth sailing for Biplab as he is locking horns with BJP nominee and two-time MP from Berhampur Sidhant Mohapatra and Congress candidate Saka Sujit Kumar.

 

 

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